Monday, September 19, 2011

Thoughts on the End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Today's guest blogger is PFLAG National board member—and PFLAG dad—Daniel Tepfer, Colonel, USAF (ret.) 

We have reached the beginning of the end of an injustice -- not only the end of 18 years of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but the end of denying lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens the right to serve their country openly. It is only the beginning of the end because housing, medical and survivorship benefits are denied to partners/spouses because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and there is still no opportunity for transgender citizens to serve because of medical and mental health regulations.

But change has already begun. The Huffington Post on Saturday (www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/17/dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal_n_967593.html) reported that some service members have:\
“. . .placed photographs of their same-sex partners on their desks and attended military barbecues and softball games with their significant others. In San Diego, about 200 active-duty personnel—both gay and heterosexual—made up the nation's first military contingency to participate in a Gay Pride march this summer, carrying banners identifying their branches of service.”
To sum it all up, the cover page of last week’s Marine Corps Times (militarytimes.com/blogs/battle-rattle/2011/09/13/behind-the-cover-were-gay-get-over-it/ ) stated "We're Gay. Get Over it."

Initially the only major change experienced by many will be the realization that they are not in jeopardy of being separated from the service if it is known they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Many may choose to stay in the closet until they feel comfortable enough to come out.  After all, homophobia will not automatically disappear with repeal. But as time goes on, as with most changes in social structure, fear will decrease with more and more acceptance and understanding.

There are great articles being written about this monumental transition. Our friends at  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network feature a few of these stories on their web site (www.sldn.org). Some of the narratives highlight first person stories of joy and hope for the future, dreams of being able to return to active duty to complete a career, and the moving account of the correction of a WWII veteran’s record 65 years after being separated from the U.S Navy for being “undesirable.”

As PFLAG members, let’s enthusiastically join the celebration of this important milestone, and then commit ourselves to continue to work for the full and equal inclusion of LGBT service members and their families.

No comments: