Don't You Dare Give Up

The hardest thing about yesterday’s Senate vote was having to tell my partner about it’s failure.  I knew he would have to go back into class and pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

He is currently thrown in with a particularly virulent bunch of rednecks and has endured their bashing in silence, as it seems Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the perpetual topic du jour.  None of them understand why anyone would want to repeal the policy; in fact they are in agreement that it works just fine the way it is.  They have been speculating that ‘some gay general’ wants to turn things in his favor, or that it is simply a bid to force “this administration’s agenda”.  They are all confident that, should DADT be repealed, ‘those homos’ will still be kicked out because gay sex is illegal under the UCMJ – and us gays are just all about the sex, right?

I got the call during a break at work – He was despondent.  He told me that he couldn’t honor the core value of Integrity by keeping silent anymore, and that he just shut down and couldn’t participate or concentrate in class anymore.  He said he was going to fail his big test in the morning because of this.

I told him it takes integrity to report for duty every day fully knowing the risks of being found out, and that it’s the bigots around him that have none.  It takes integrity to live your dream despite the obstacles.  It takes integrity to fight for what you believe in; and that fight – that path  – is different for each and every one of us.

He lamented that he was going to be done with his enlistment and be able to retire before this asinine policy was abolished.  I told him if that were true, he would fight harder from the civilian side.  This just made him angrier: “No!”, he said.  He was adamant that he be able to recognize me before he is done.  “All of this I’ve been through can’t be for nothing”, he pleads.

“It was all a waste”, he says.

At this point, something snaps inside of me.

“NO!”, I say back.  “It was YOUR story that sent me to the State Convention, and then on the the National Convention.  It was YOUR story that sent me to the Inauguration.  It was YOUR story that moved people to consider the plight of military partners, and for Alex and Jarrod to establish their groundbreaking outreach program.  It was YOUR story that touched people in the Silent Partners documentary, and YOUR picture in Jeff Sheng’s book that stings me every time I look at it.

“It was YOUR story that got me to the Pentagon for the first ever meeting of GLBTQ partners with the Comprehensive Review Working Group.  I’m part of YOUR story, Clay – as you are part of mine.  Hold your goddamn head high and be proud that you are part of changing this policy.”

He passed his test with flying colors – getting one of the highest score in the class.

**Disclaimer**  I need to point out that I have the UTMOST respect for those servicemembers whose path to integrity led them to come out publicly and be discharged, or to those who chose not to reenlist because of DADT.  I honor and support your decisions and hope my heat-of-the-moment, holier-than-thou rant to my husband in no way makes you think otherwise.  Clay’s personal decision to push toward retirement is one that is deeply personal, one that I support, and one that we both question on a regular basis.

I am often confounded as to how I have been given the privilege of being allowed to participate in this debate in such a public manner.  I truly feel, down to the marrow of my bones, that it is an accident of fate – and that there are many more qualified and more deserving.  But here I am.  I am humbled and honored to have been able to share my viewpoint to the extent that I have.  My biggest fear is that I will f*(# this up somehow and dishonor partners and their servicemembers.

Advertisements

New Day?

In a word: Yes. But…

I had just said goodnight to my husband last night – that beautiful night, the 9th of September. I was busy working on my next month’s work schedule when my phone chimed with a news push notification: “Federal Judge Rules Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Unconstitutional.”

Yesterday didn’t quite start out so auspiciously – quite the contrary. Clay called from his 2 month training stint (a school required for him to move up in rank), upset that his instructor had baited the class into some gay bashing. Clay quietly endured the comments of “gross”, “disgusting”, “faggots”, etc. Most of the males in the class participated, while the females stared straight ahead, wide-eyed. He was especially disgusted that this behavior was propagated at “such a high professional level” (i.e. higher rank.)

It really took the wind out of his sails – he had been so eager to learn and take this opportunity to advance in his field. We talked about it at length and he dejectedly went off to bed early. So, when I got the news of the court ruling, I couldn’t get a hold of him! I knew this was the one piece of information that would make him feel better, but he was already passed out in his dorm room with his headphones on (his roommate is of the loud an inconsiderate type.)

He finally got the news early this morning and asked, “What does it mean? Does the military go back to the old way of tossing all gays out now?” He was very excited, but unsure of how the process would play out.

Good question.

I explained as best as I could that the District Court ruling will likely be stayed until it is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then maybe even on to the Supreme Court (if they will hear it.) This can take a very long time, so basically everything stays the same for now. Some analysts say this could pressure the Senate to pass the Defense bill that’s coming up soon for a vote, which contains the already passed House language repealing DADT.

So many of our friends and coworkers will again think that this ruling means that DADT is dead and buried. I say “again” because after every ruling or committee hearing they say things like, “DADT was already repealed, right? I saw it in the news a while ago…”

Right now, most of all, I am thinking of the emotional roller coaster our LGBTQ troops are on as we slog through the repeal effort. I am truly grateful for this latest victory, and the buoying effect it rightly gives to those who need it the most.

I am grateful to the Log Cabin Republicans for their six year legal pursuit in this case. I am grateful to Alex and Jarrod at Servicemembers United for their extraordinary abilities and efforts on the repeal front; HRC, SLDN, AVER, Knights Out and each and every other group fighting for repeal.

I am most grateful, however, for all the LGBTQ troops who show up for duty every single day despite the institutionalized discrimination that threatens to wreck their careers, AND all the ones who came before (the Matloviches, Cammermyers, Denny Meyers, Chois and thousands of others…)

**UPDATE**

Today,  DADT was brought up again and someone said, “I don’t want them looking at me in the showers.”  A young, conservative, very religious and married father of three sitting next to Clay said, “Dude, no one wants to look at YOU in the shower.  I have no problem with gay people.”  And that was the end of that for the day.