Who do you love? Gays in military find freedom | Amy Johnson

Federal Way, I know first-hand that you don’t all agree about this issue, so let me just start out by reminding you that it’s National Courtesy Month.

Last week, the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy went into effect, allowing those who are gay and lesbian to serve openly in our military.

In addition to gay and lesbian members who were discharged now being allowed to re-enlist, “brave men and women currently serving will have the freedom to come out and be honest with their comrades about who they are and who they love,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Let me emphasize the important part here: they get to be honest about who they love.

Not what they do in bed, which by the way is nobody’s business, any more than it is what you or I or any heterosexual does in bed. Who. They. Love.

Some people say this governmental mandate to allow openness about homosexuality will somehow dishonor the military by changing attitudes, negatively affecting recruitment and “eroding unit cohesion.” But this past week, the military finally honored Melvin Dwork by changing his 70-year-old “undesirable” discharge to “honorable.” Imagine all those years of being viewed as undesirable by our military, despite a willingness to serve his country, all because of who he loves.

“We all must be allowed to love each other with honor,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. …We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.”

And for who they love.

Imagine (if you are straight) not being able to tell anyone at work that you’re married, or to whom you’re married, for fear of being ridiculed, persecuted or fired — no picture on your desk because that could result in awkward questions.

Imagine not being able to tell your friends or family that you are moving across the country because your partner got transferred to another base, because if you explain, you’ll out her, and she’ll be dishonorably discharged.

No wonder there was a celebration last week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, featuring Major Margaret Witt, who legally fought her 2004 discharge for being outed as a lesbian. “Over 14,000 service members were discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Witt said. “I was one of the very fortunate few who had a legal team who was willing to step up and fight.”

Now, all those who are willing to step up and fight for the rest of us, for freedom and democracy and the American way, no longer have to choose between being honest and serving. And that makes me proud to be an American.

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