Letter to Petty Officer Rhonda Davis
Recently one of
my best friends from the military was discharged
for participating in a march and speaking out on
gay marriage . Petty Officer first class
Rhonda Davis and I graduated DINFOS *(Defense
Information School, Ft. Meade, Maryland) back in
2002 and she graduated the top of our class.
She helped me a great deal while I was there, and
I owe her a great deal of gratitude for all she's
done for me.
was that she loved someone very deeply, and just
like anyone of us who's been away from their loved
one's for a long time, you can imagine what Rhonda
was feeling after 5 months of being apart from her
partner. Now the Navy will tell you she
broke the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, but of
course they seem to leave out the portion of that
policy that means, 'if you're gay.' Go to
any Naval detachment around the world, and you'll
find any heterosexual guy in uniform talking about
the woman he got done sleeping with the other
night. That somehow does NOT break the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'
policy, despite the fact it's rather offensive to
While I was
stationed in Japan for nearly four years, I've
seen some of the most horrific individuals STAY in
the Navy. *(not that they should, but the
Navy seems to look the other way on some
offenses). One individual was found passed
out on the curb and had a huge drinking problem
while being addicted to over the counter drugs.
He's been through drug rehab twice already, and is
still in the Navy. I remember one guy
killing a Japanese national while being legally
intoxicated and he was walking around on base a
free man for the longest time. Underage
drinking, drug use, you name it, I've seen it.
I even had to rescue some sailors on more than one
occasion from being drunk out in town, and one of
them was underage. But NOT ONE OF THEM were
kicked out of the Navy. So far, the only
person I know who's been kicked out, was Rhonda
Davis. Rhonda never got drunk out in town,
she didn't drink and drive, do drugs, or even be a
public nuisance. She was a great ambassador
of our nation while stationed in the country of
For those of you
who've never had the honor of meeting Rhonda,
allow me to tell you a little bit about this
incredible woman. She's a fun loving, caring
individual. She jokes around all the time,
probably one of the funniest people I've ever come
in contact with and not to mention one of the
smartest individuals I've come to know. She's
a very proud individual who is very patriotic and
loves our country. *(evident by her ten
years of service); Rhonda wasn't just another body
in the Navy though, she was someone with a
background as an English teacher, who worked hard
in every job she was given and won many awards for
her efforts. This isn't just Jane Doe who
put a couple years of service in, and took off
without a trace. This was Petty Officer
First Class Rhonda Davis, who's done more for
other sailors than she would ever care to admit
too. During my stint in the Navy, I won two
Thomas Jefferson Awards *(the highest award we can
achieve), 4 Chinfo Awards, and countless
others including an Air Force Achievement medal.
I would have NEVER have won any of them without
the guidance and help Rhonda gave me early in my
Naval Career. But now she can't share her
wealth of knowledge to young sailors anymore
thanks to the obsolete policy the Armed Forces
currently regulates under. Instead the Navy
will take their chances with out of shape
individuals, drunk drivers, and drug users because
they happen to be heterosexuals.
How ignorant our
we going to be as a people to allow others to
discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?
It's the year 2006, and gays can still be talked
about in a discriminating manner even by our own
politicians? Have you ever heard anything
out of Senator Rick Santorum's (Pa) mouth?
He says gays and lesbians in consensual,
monogamous and loving relationships
"undermine the basic tenets of our society,
and "(If) the Supreme Court says that you
have the right to consensual sex within your home,
then you have the right to bigamy, you have the
right to polygamy, you have the right to incest,
and you have the right to adultery".
This is coming out of a Senator's mouth mind you,
one of our own law makers in this country.
He can somehow cast dispersions on an entire group
of people that he's never really been around.
He's nothing more than a bigot and yet he's a
lawmaker, and that's what scares me most.
nothing wrong in the Navy. She did her job,
and did it well. She told America she loved
someone, and she happened to be another woman.
Rhonda had to deal with inappropriate comments all
the time, and even someone who ordered a bride
from another country. Yet these people will
still be the ones in uniform tomorrow, while
Rhonda has to step away. How fair is that
exactly? The Navy has dismissed over 10,000
members thanks to the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'
policy, and some of those members were in
specialty fields like linguists in the Arabic
language, which I don't have to explain are in
high demand. Instead our Armed Services are
willing to give up those positions despite the
interest of National Security and uphold their
precious 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy instead.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Rhonda did, was nothing short of brave and
courageous. She wore her dress white
uniform, strolled over across the street to where
the march was being organized and in no time, had
cameras in her face. She told the truth,
something the Navy encourages. “Honor,
Courage, and Commitment” are the Navy's Core
Values and Rhonda upheld those core values her
I spent five
years in the Navy, and the hypocrisy was even
enough for me to get out. I got out
honorably, and was happy with the job I did.
But I've seen way too many good people who wanted
to stay in the Armed Services and defend our great
nation get taken out for nothing more than being
gay. It's really easy for people to say
"support the Military". But how
does one support the military if they discriminate
among Military Members? Make no mistake,
The Navy didn't just lose here… America
lost. And if we continue to judge people on
their sexual orientation, and dismiss inexcusable
behavior by others, America will continue to lose
very valuable individuals. It's amazing how
much the tax payers of our nation have wasted on
getting well educated, honorable members of the
military out of the service just because their
homosexual. Sometimes I wonder, do people
watch 'Queer as Folk' or News channels of the 'Gay
Pride' parades and think that's how all gay people
are? True to form, some gays are like this,
but most happen to be your accountants, your store
clerks, your mailman, your lawn guy, your barber,
your secretary, and so forth. The fact of
the matter is, they live their life the same way
anyone else does. The only problem is, they
can't see their loved ones when their sick in the
hospital or get job benefits to their partner.
pays out huge amounts of money to members who get
married and have kids. They offer great
benefit packages to their wives or husbands and
give more money for each child the couple has.
For some reason though, Joe Navy can get married
with someone he just met at a club and get her on
his benefits package in no time, But Rhonda who's
been in a committed relationship for four years
now, can't do the same. Joe Navy can have
many write-ups, get demoted, go to Captain's mast
and so forth, yet his benefits for his wife is
fine. Rhonda, a 10-year first class award
winning petty officer however can't get so much as
a mint for her significant other. How is
this not bigotry? How can we as Americans
feel good about ourselves when we allow people to
be hurt like this?
Brown was a abolitionist who freed slaves.
He was white but that didn't stop him from trying
to show America that having slaves was wrong.
Women in American weren't able to do anything
outside of staying home until Susan B. Anthony
came along. Now women can vote and be
elected to high office. It wasn't but 50
years ago when Rosa Parks sat in the front seat of
the bus when that was taboo. Now anyone can
sit anywhere on a bus no matter who they are.
I at least have hope for America, that we will
come to do the right thing. We can stop
putting labels on people, and allow them to
fulfill their dreams. I encourage groups
like Soul Search and GLBT to continue their
efforts on helping gays in our society. I
seriously hope the Stonewall Democrats and the Log
Cabin Republicans can put pressure on our law
makers to get rid of this foolish 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'
policy, and allow people like Rhonda who has
served this country honorably, to continue serving
Rhonda, I thank
you, not for just being my friend, but for serving
our country. Especially when our country
didn't serve you as well back.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Mr. Russ was a
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class with 5 years service,