Repeal, One Year
Veterans For Equal Rights
The world did
not end. The United States Military did not
collapse. The dire predictions of the powerful and
well-funded bulwark of anti-gay groups proved to be
as false as they were for all the other national
militaries that lifted their gay bans decades ago.
There have been no mass desertions, no mutinies, no
harm to morale, mission, or recruitment. Nothing.
Just as we said.
before Congress that the “best trained, most
professional, and most disciplined fighting force in
the history of our planet” would have no problem
accepting open service by gay members of the
military. We were right. Perhaps the most
unfortunate aspect of today’s military has been the
deeply disturbing issue of sexual assault against
women service members, a sad indication that
undermines our claim that our fighting forces are
above such challenges.
ban did nothing for transgender Americans who want
to serve in the military. That issue is in limbo
and appears stalled, while discussions of what
transgender service will look like seem to fade as
the days go by, and issues of diversity not popular
to pollsters get pushed aside in the midst of an
election year. AVER remains committed to
transgender service. We will leave no one behind.
Not today. Not tomorrow.
The issue of
LGB service members is crucial to the fight for
marriage equality. Proof that lifting the ban did
not hurt the military, despite the ardent claims of
the opposition, is precedent that allowing
same-gender marriage will not harm the institution
of legal union. The issues of same-gender military
families and their need for legal protections have
drawn the attention of top military support
organizations such as Joining Forces, First Lady
Michelle Obama's support organization for military
families. Because members of the military are held
in such high esteem by the American people, the need
for LGB service members to protect their married
spouses and dependents will help win the battle for
marriage equality. Our soldiers deserve all we can
give them. Same-gender marriage protection is
something they need in order to defend our freedom
along with their heterosexual counterparts without
worrying if their families will be protected back
home. It’s an issue of justice and fairness. It’s
an American issue.
wrongs to be righted. Many veterans, from World War
II through Afghanistan, need to have their
less-than-honorable discharges upgraded in order to
access the benefits they earned from the VA. The
largest injustice is the pensions lost by honored
members of the military who were discharged for
being gay. No one is discussing this issue. Men
and women who should be receiving just retirement
for their service to our nation have been
dishonorably denied the pensions they earned.
But the first
openly gay general has received her star, pinned on
by her same-gender legal spouse. The same-sex
marine kiss “seen round the world” passed without
incident, "it's your typical homecoming photo", in
the words of the USMC. The nation has changed. One
year later, an injustice that stood for a century is
largely forgotten. No major political candidates
suggest reinstituting the ban.
become more free. The largest, most respected
employer in the United States no longer
discriminates against LGB Americans, at least as far
the right to serve. The precedent of having the
highly honored institution of the US military
clinging to a policy that discriminated against gay
Americans no longer stands. The path towards
same-sex benefits and marriage equality has been
made more open.
needs to “evolve”, to borrow a popular phrase, not
just on LGBT issues, but on issues of diversity in
general. America’s destiny to become the largest,
most diverse society in human history to embrace
equal rights, equal responsibilities, and equal
respect for every citizen, should not be the battle
of one minority after another. The culture of
America needs to change in regard to minorities, and
the United States Constitution needs to be honored
by every American, especially by elected officials
and members of the military who have sworn an oath
to defend it. Americans need a better understanding
and appreciation of what America is about and what
it means to be an American.
The passing of
the ban is more than just a soon to be forgotten
footnote in military history. It should be
remembered as a moment when America became more true
to itself. And the long battle to remove it should
be noted as the unfortunate struggle to obtain what
is already guaranteed by the constitution, the very
document which America’s military exists to defend.
Most of all, it should be a reminder that “we’re not
there yet” when it comes to diversity. America’s
destiny should not be the battle of one minority
after another to gain the freedom already guaranteed
to every citizen. The dance must be open to all.
One year later, let those of us taking our first
two-step not forget to invite others to the ball.
© 2012 Gay Military Signal, AVER