John Shields

U.S. Military Veterans March on the White House

Filed By John Shields | June 27, 2009 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
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Active-duty and retired members of the United States Military from around the globe, as well as family and friends, participated in today's March on the White House, organized by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. According to a press release issued earlier, SLDN said:

Service members, veterans, their families, loved ones and supporters will be marching to the White House at 2 p.m. to demand action against the DADT law passed by Congress in 1993 that makes gays and lesbians second-class citizens in the military of their own country


Seems a no-brainer to me. and my thoughts on this subject are very clear:

I'm sick and tired of politicians playing "kick the can" with the lives of gay and lesbian servicemembers, and it better stop soon. First off, the LGBTQ community is not a "can" and I for one am tired of being kicked - down the road or anywhere else.

As a former special operations officer, you bet I have an opinion on this, but I'll let others do the talking for me right now while I go punch a wall or two.

That's from an earlier article I wrote this year, and here we are - in the same place. Grrr...

Here are a few thoughts, and a few pictures, from today:

From a comment posted on SLDN's website:

Thank you everyone who is marching on Saturday. I would be there too, but I am currently deployed overseas. My partner of 4 years remains at home stateside, both of us silenced from DADT. If you're thinking about going, please do! Every person counts!

A Photo of the March:

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Again, I am absolutely astounded at this travesty of justice - from a country that spouts every second that it can - that it is the "shining example of human rights."

We have men and women, braving their lives and their souls on battlefields every day - from Afghanistan, to Iraq, to their own military base. I can't say this enough, but ENOUGH already~!

From a guest editorial I wrote in the Washington Blade last year:

End the U.S. military's gay ban, because courage is what counts on the battlefield - not sexual orientation.

Thoughts from a dear friend that I had the distinct honor of lobbying Congress with to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell earlier this year. A veteran, he's the one behind the camera in most of these photos.

For many years, I have supported the mission of SLDN to end the DADT regulations that prohibit Gays and Lesbians from serving openly in the military. Today, we joined with about 350 others to march to the White House and implore President Obama to take action to end DADT and the discharge of countless men and women who have been discharged from the military simply because they are Gay or Lesbian.

The march focused on the fact that an estimated 265 men and women have been discharged under DADT since the President took the oath of office on January 20th. While Obama has promised change, he has not taken any public action to demonstrate his support for the end of DADT.

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77 members of Congress have called on President Obama to lead on this issue, not to play duck-and-cover by passing the ball back to legislators. It is time for Mr. Obama to come out of the closet on this.

Again, a comment from the SLDN site:

If the President doesn't take care of the situation, I'll be leaving the military as well and I'm currently on my second enlistment. Since that's what my partner and I agreed on.

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This insanity has to stop. There are men and women serving our country bravely and honorably, only to wonder if their own country will turn their back on them when we need them most.

It's time we stopped defending injustice, and started defending our freedoms - and that includes the right of every brave servicemember in the United States Military to be free to do their job.

It's time for every American to take a stand on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. NOW. I'll leave you with a quote from one of today's veterans that marched on the White House to prompt them to make a solid statement that DADT will be repealed - THIS YEAR:

I just saw a great documentary ("Shouting Fire") about our First Amendment rights of free speech and realized as I stood on Pennsylvania Avenue that, as a Gay American, I have the right and privilege to exercise my right to protest.

It was empowering to join with others in this effort and to hear their stories of changed lives as a result of discharge under DADT. I also enjoyed watching spectators watch us either in avid support, thumbs up, or seeming bewilderment. I have a sense that many citizens (both Gay and straight) don't understand this issue or simply don't care.

The day was exciting and empowering for me, and yet I came away thinking that we must do more to get our message to Congress and the White House.


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