I think it’s important this Memorial Day, in the face of public debate about the appeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to take a moment to remember the gay and lesbian soldiers that have given their life for their country.
We’ll never know exactly how many, because military regulations have required them to hide their personal lives from the eyes of colleagues and superiors. Their partners didn’t greet them when they returned on leave, they didn’t take part in military family homecoming celebrations, and chances are, they didn’t have public funerals when they fell in battle – because their immediate families couldn’t be there.
The ones who committed suicide in, or after, service did so without the ability to access chaplain services or psychiatric care in any meaningful way.
Take an additional moment of silence today to remember the 13,000 living men and women whose careers and lives have been destroyed by DADT.
In the years that we’ve discharged these servicemembers, we’ve progressively expanded the boundaries of who the military will accept, to include people with criminal backgrounds, including a history of violent crimes, and people with mental health issues. This is, in part, to fill the gap left by the dismissal of 13,000 qualified soldiers.
Obama made the campaign promise to repeal DADT and the time has come to carry it though.