Celebrate, then prepare for battle

We’ve featured SLDN’s countdown clock before. It is gratifying to see it so close to ZERO! There are more than 100 celebrations planned throughout the country. As a Navy submarine veteran discharged for being gay, I plan on attending the Dallas Repeal Event.

Remember, the war has not been won but the winning of this battle is huge. It can not be underestimated how this will move LGBT rights forward. Our enemies will no longer be able to say we don’t serve honestly and openly in our nation’s armed forces when they try to justify treating us like second class citizens.

A gay retired U.S. Army Colonel, Stewart Bornhoft, writing for the Union Times in San Diego makes some excellent points.

As a 1969 West Point graduate who served two voluntary tours in Vietnam during 26 years on active duty, I’ve seen from my own experience in the field why outdated laws that treat lesbian, gay and bisexual service members as second-class patriots should go. Getting rid of DADT tells all service members, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, that they are part of the unit and can embrace the military values of honor and integrity without being fired simply for who they are.

They can now serve openly but not yet equally. Compared to their nongay counterparts, LGB service members still won’t have benefit parity or equal status with others of equal rank. They still need military health care for their dependents and spouses, assistance during deployment and access to commissary and exchange services, especially when the uniformed member of a family is deployed.

Our commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, needs to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity so we don’t just turn the calendar back to pre-DADT days. His order should provide LGBT troops with the same recourse outside their chain of command as others are allowed if they are experiencing harassment or discrimination.Equal treatment is still an unrealized goal. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta should take steps to make same-sex married couples eligible for benefits offered their nongay peers, including joint duty assignments, family center programs, military family housing and more.

TIME TO CELEBRATE! Then, we need to prepare for battle with the knowledge our enemies never rest, and will be furiously trying to regain the upper hand. We can not allow that to happen. We must continue marching forward until we achieve FULL EQUALITY in every aspect of American life.

Remember, a moment of silence is being planned for our transgender brothers and sisters who have been left out when it comes to their ability to openly and honestly serve.

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