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.
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.
3. Lt. Daniel Choi: Came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in March of 2009 — received a discharge letter shortly after.
A former American infantry officer in the United States Army, Choi served as an infantry office in Iraq from 2006-2007. He participated in many acts of protest, including two self-chaining protests on the White House fence and a hunger strike.
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 Senior Airman Randy Phillips: Came out to his father a few days after DADT was repealed, in what became an instant YouTube viral video.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:
Sean Sutton, left, greets his boyfriend of 2 years, U.S. Navy sailor Jonathan Jewell, E5, with a kiss after Jewell returned from a seven month deployment:
Two women, both active duty sailors in the Navy who gave their names as Nikki, left, and Lisa, kiss as they march in the Gay Pride Parade in San Diego:
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.
From Kristen Beck becoming the first Navy SEAL to come out as trans, to the announcement by Chelsea Manning that she also is trans — trans military issues have received more attention than ever before.
Learn more about trans individuals serving in the military.