Members Of The U.S. Military You Need To Remember On The Anniversary Of Don't Ask Don't Tell
Two years ago today, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was repealed allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly. These are the individuals we have to thank.
1. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich: The first gay service member to out himself purposefully in order to fight the military's ban on openly gay military personnel.
A Vietnam War veteran, he was a recipient of the Purple heart and the Bronze Star.
His first television interview following his public coming out:
2. Major Margaret Witt: Filed suit in 2008 with the U.S. District Court in Witt V. Department Of The Air Force after her discharge.
She was an active major in the U.S. Air Force when she was put under investigation for homosexuality in 2006. The following year, she was ordered an honorable discharge.
Dismissed by the district court, the case was heard on appeal and the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling on May 21, 2008. Two years later, District Judge Ronald B. Leighton ruled that due to Witt's constitutional rights being violated she must be reinstated to the Air Force.
In a settlement announced in May of 2011, the Air Force agreed to drop its appeal and remove the discharge from her military record.
3. Lt. Daniel Choi: Came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in March of 2009 — received a discharge letter shortly after.
Choi wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama and the United States Congress. In the letter, he wrote:
4. Sgt. Darren Manzella: Outed himself publicly on 60 Minutes in 2007, leading to his own discharge six months later.
Former Army medic, serving in both Iraq and Kuwait.
Following the repeal of DADT, Manzella enlisted in the New York Army National Guard and was promoted and awarded for his meritorious service
5. Gen. Tammy Smith: Became the first general officer to come out as gay while serving when she was promoted to Brigadier General, US Army Reserve.
Her stars were pinned to her uniform by her Father, Jack Smith, Sr., and her wife Tracey Hepner.
6. Lt. Josh Seefried: Acted under a pseudonym during his campaign to end the discrimination against LGBT individuals serving openly.
7. Senior Airman Randy Phillips: Came out to his father a few days after DADT was repealed, in what became an instant YouTube viral video.
Thanks to the actions of these individuals, and countless others, we get to see military men and women serve openly and proudly:
Even two years after the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the U.S. military is still not completely equal and open for all those in active duty.
Transgender soldiers are still unable to serve openly and can be discharged without voluntary disclosure.
Learn more about trans individuals serving in the military.