Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No More Holding Hands In The Dark....DADT

When we send our young men and women off to war we often laud them as heroes for giving up their personal freedoms in order to defend ours. They give up the ability to do so many things that we take for granted on the average day, to put their lives on the line to make sure we can continue to live in freedom. This is a sentiment that has been passed around so much...and used for political gain...that it sometimes seems to be  cliche but it also happens to be totally true. When you give up the ability to go out on a Saturday night with your best freinds or simply spend a day watching t.v. and instead chose to do a service for your country in which you may not come home to enjoy those simple deserve to be considered a hero. So why do we draw a line at gay and lesbian soldiers and say, "Not these guys. They don't count." Does their life not carry the same value as a heterosexual soldiers life? Is not their sacrifice the same?

Not when we treat those same soldiers, who are making the same sacrifices, as criminals or predators because they happen to be gay. Such are the stories told by those dismissed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell....Such as Just-A-Joe the anonymous gay soldier who blogged about his time in the service, his unintentional coming out, and emminent dismissal. But nothing I can say will be as powerfull as their own words...

Don't Ask Don't Tell never leaves the news. This weeks flaming bag of governmental dog poop comes from the White know that place where the President who promised to repeal DADT lives? Well...his minions have been at it again. This time, the Department of Justice is attempting to force a summary judgement in the case to repeal DADT brought to court by the Log Cabin Republicans. The motion for a summary judgement uses the same old homophobic talking points that you hear tirelessly dragged out again and again. See for youself(emphasis mine):

These rules are necessitated by, among other things, “[t]he worldwide deployment of United States military forces, the international responsibilities of the United States, and the potential for involvement of the armed forces in actual combat routinely [which] make it necessary for members of the armed forces involuntarily to accept living conditions and working conditions that are often spartan, primitive, and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.” Id. § 654(a)(12). Congress’s policy judgment culminated, as noted, in its finding that “[t]he presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

If our President is so firmly commited to ending what he has spoken of as a "discriminatory policy", Than how are the people who work under him allowed to do this?...twice! the first time was back in October when they tried to have the case thrown out of court using the same offensive language. And the President defended them by stating that they were just doing their jobs, enforcing the laws as they now exist.

This in no way appears to be the actions of an administration headed for repeal, which is why I characterize it as the flaming bag of dog doo that it is. Everyday good Americans are being..not only kicked out for being gay...but being treated like criminals who should duck their heads in shame to boot...and a military escort off base sends that message loud and clear. This bureaucrat is comfortable sitting in his leatherbound chair on capitol hill, crafting statements like these to move his chess  piece a little farther on the board that is other peoples real lives....Like the anonymous gay soldier who blogged under the moniker Just-A-Joe.

Being gay in the military is a psychologically tough experience. Tell someone that that there is something that they absolutely CAN NOT talk about and it will become all they can think about till their heads threaten to explode. Such was the case with "Joe". I can see from his earlier posts that he was unconsciously working his way to outing himself when along came this entry...and sorry...this is gonna be a long wordy post today...

The day did not seem any different than any day. I had no intentions of breaking my silence. In my team we discuss politics very frequently and it becomes heated most all the time. This is okay, we enjoy it. I enjoy listening to my counterpart call Fox news the only unbiased station, genuinely entertaining. This individual is an avid tea-party supporter. Our conversation started on that note. I brought up the fact that a sixteen year old was arrested at a wal-mart for smaller offenses than being committed in the congressional halls. He said that the movement has shown no violence. I said your crazy, same old, same old.

Somehow we managed to segue into a gay marriage discussion. I brought up the point that not all Americans are free and we should do everything to ensure this. My counterpart believed that there should be no government influence whatsoever. If a company does not want to hire a black person they should not be made to. The conversation kept building, and I felt the voice inside of me screaming. If from that conversation it was not noticeable that I was gay, they were crazy. I did everything but say this. The bubble finally popped though, I spoke rather loudly (outside I remind you) and stated “I am gay.” I proceeded to give a speech fit for the public. I was rather impressed with it actually, I am a much better speaker than a writer.

I rather hastily discussed the issues that we face, and how I give my blood and sweat just as they do. I told them flat out, “You know Ryan? My girl? Well… She does not have tits, he has a dick” and continued to explain how long we have been together and why he has sacrificed more than any of there wives. I ended speaking about how I do fight for my rights, how I call my Senators begging them everyday to allow me the freedom of honesty. I told them “we are going to tear this country into shreds if that’s what it takes, but I tell you this, we will get full equality no matter if you decide to stand in our way or not.” That was summarized. By this point I was so emotional, my mouth was dry, I was on the verge of tears and laughter. I felt those same emotions that ran through my head as a teenager following the coming out to my parents.

And so the volcano erupted and out came three years of repressed energy. afterward, he was approached by his Sergeant who told him everything someone in his position would hope to hear...

'I just want to let you know that this does not change my opinions at all. You are not going to be able to do that. However, my opinions are not changed concerning you either. I am not going to single you out. I am not going to out you. This can stay between us. You did make it real for me, however. I never thought about it from that perspective. If something was to happen to you, your partner would not even know. I do disagree with that, its wrong.'

Great! So all systems go to resume normality right?...wrong. The following Saturday "Joe" was informed that he was under investigation by DADT and the same Sergeant who made the statement of support above turned out to be the individual who actually turnes "Joe" in. By "Joe's" account this guy even talks about it on his facebook never can tell who you can trust during a witch hunt, can you?

Now...heres where it goes from being an abstract concept for us all to argue about at home...or legislate over in our private real people...and real pain.

Today I was informed that my command would be initiating an investigation on me. My luck with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is up. To be honest today has thrown so much in my face, I want to cry. I am at a loss of what to do. The other day, I felt honorable. I felt prideful. Today, I feel like a fucking criminal. I am tired. After serving this country for three years, in two deployments, I am no longer a soldier. I am now a prisoner. Let me be clear, because I thought this would be freeing, I thought I would be happier. I am not. Today, I am worse off than the previous three years.

They first informed me that I would be coming under investigation, that my comrades had been asked to submit a sworn statement by morning. I was at first okay with this. I am done being a part of an institution that will hire convicted felons yet condemn me for being a gay man. I have sex with men. I love a man. For that, I am a criminal.

I am so depressed right now it is unreal, I have not felt like this since I was that small boy questioning who I was and why my creator made me like this.
Taking a man, who has gone war to serve his country, and then making him feel as if he is a criminal and a pervert...that his life and sacrifice are of no crime enough in my opinion. But they aren't done with him yet:

They are preparing the paperwork to discharge me under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while telling me that it will sit in a manila envelope and not be pursued. Essentially, do to the fact that we are at war they need me. But when we return home they could effectively fire me. If I am not “qualified” to serve you would think that would insinuate any circumstance. However, at times of war those rules are overlooked....
...Instead, they will table the discharge until we return from Iraq, and then they will fire me. When they no longer want me. Enough is enough. Our Senators need to understand that we are real individuals. We are here. Every one of them has a gay soldier as a constituent begging silently for a voice. Hoping they will get that help. This is a congressional issue. They are going to make the decision on this.

I am done being silent. I love my job, and if they want to keep me for now, awesome. I am proud to serve! I will no longer be silent though, no longer. I ask you to take a stand against inequality with me. Let’s fight this hard, we will win.
No more holding hands in the dark. Show them what fighting spirit means Joe.

A message from "Joe"  to us at home:

I have a message to our government, to President Obama, to our nation! I fought for your freedoms! I am in Iraq now! I am currently fighting for your freedoms and if you can not give me the decency of honesty, of my integrity, my dignity, then I am done serving you. I will not be subjected to cruel acts of religious morality checking. That is not for the government nor my leaders to decide. I am an American soldier, not a terrorist! A soldier, what they call a hero. I give my blood and sweat to this country just as much as some of you and more than most of you! Change this for me.

My message to my supporters, I love you! Thank you for being here for me in this struggle. If it were not for you I would not be motivated, and I would be alone. Stand with me! Fight with me! This is not over, it is only beginning!
In my opinion you can argue about the number of discharges or the logistics of a repeal until the cows come home....all those ideas stay in the realm of idea until you hear a story like Joes. This is reality. People who we are asking to lay their lives on the line for our freedoms are not only not being granted theirs but are also treated as if they have done something criminal for which they should feel ashamed. Nothing could be further from the truth and its time to lift this burden from our gay, lesbian, and trangendered soldiers.

Please visit Joe's blog at and give him some support. Until next time dear readers...



  1. Thank you for your support. I was quite suprised to wake up and see all the traffic, perfect timing too. My site was bare, as I switched over to a new install. :) Thats how it works. Thank you again for talking about this as I believe it is really important for people to hear from those that this affects the most.

  2. Beautiful message - written with SUCH conviction! My nephew, JOE (a STRAIGHT guy but I don't hold it against him! lol) just returned from his SECOND TOUR in IRAQ. While I prayed for him and ALL the others that have volunteered to SERVE our COUNTRY it frightened me each day that many of those in high power positions were being dismissed NOT because of whom they may have killed - but for WHO they LOVE! My nephew, my nickname for him - G I JOEY - was putting HIS life on the line each and every day - and I wanted the BEST SUPPORT TEAM there with him! He did not have a problem with the issue - I think that is one amazing thing that HAS truly taken place since I played "army" and "cowboys and Indians" as a kid (no BROKEBACK boy JOKES please! lol) - the younger generation do not have the same prejudices that were so prevalent when I was a boy in the 1960's - and realized I was - shhhhhhhhhh - GAY in the 70's. I have taught for 28 years - all classes from preschool to GRADUATE LEVEL - I have SEEN the change - the acceptance from the younger generation. We just need to get the GROWN UPS on board and get them to stop DEMONIZING us in the name of GOD! I remember when TWO young men - dressed in BLACK pants, white shirt, the tie - YEP, the Mormons came to WITNESS to me as I was working in my yard. When I asked about their churches stand on homosexuality - one completely shut down - but the other TRIED to share with me that the CHURCH loved ALL people - JUST not the sin. AS I was a bit HOT from working in the yard I looked him STRAIGHT in the eye and asked "Where should I buy my slave? Canada or Mexico?" He was taken aback - tried to pull his composure and state that THAT part of Leviticus no longer applies. When I asked him WHO gets to make that choice his answer was JESUS. I then asked him to open the book he was carrying and SHOW me WHERE Jesus shows his disdain for being gay - and of course he could not. With that I thanked them both - and they walked away. It was several weeks later at an outdoor concert RIGHT here in CHARLESTON, West Virginia - as I stood among several thousand fans listening to some good country music - I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around - it was the QUIET Mormon standing there. All he could say was THANK you without crying - and then he was gone. God DID send him to my house that day - but not for what his church had told him - HE HEARD my WITNESSING - and maybe for the first time he felt HE was OK exactly like he was. I don’t know what became of either - I don’t know WHAT has become of our Commander in Chief of the Army, and I do not know WHAT will become of all of us... but I know ONE THING - things are changing! Heck, It was George Washington that signed the executive order as commander and chief of the ARMY “during the American Revolution no less!” that allowed African Americans to SERVE in the military! That was over 200 years ago - we have come a long way - and we have a long WAY to go - BUT I HAVE FAITH!!!

  3. Wow Roger. That was an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it! :)

  4. "...that it sometimes seems to be cliche but it also happens to be totally true."

    Erm, I disagree. Yes, ordinary people may be giving up their personal freedoms and putting their lives at risk because they THINK it will do good, but so many wars have not been fought to "defend our freedoms back home", but for greed, the desire for power and oppression. One thing is defending France against Hitler's occupation, another is the current Iraq war. However, everyone SHOULD be given equal opportunities and that includes the army, even if I don't always agree with it [the army]. And it is disgusting that they treat soldiers (or anyone) like this.

  5. I think your confusing the war...which I have never agreed with either....with service. Even if we were not in a war the job ur military does for us is not a job everyone is cut out to do. they put their lives on the line for us daily and I DO think that deserves a little respect.

    I bet a good portion of the soldiers fighting in Irag don't believe in the war. Maybe they did when they first enlisted...but seeing the real thing has a way of changing you. But they go and do their job...and sometimes they don't come home. If we want to make value judgements about the war...make them to the people who started this war and purposely mislead the the men and women serving in the military.

    I hear that basic idea in your statement...but I need to clarify...that its not the war that makes the hero...its the person who performs a vital service for the nation...and faces circumstances that would make many full grown men curl up in a fetal position and cry.

  6. This is the thing that I just don't get - ignoring all the other issues, how can anyone's conscience let them have a policy that means the most important person in a soldier's life will not necessarily be the first to hear if something happens. To me, it's just inhumane, and the sooner Washington gets on with the job that needs doing, the better.

  7. My brother is GAY. I am proud of his accomplishments and for what he has given of his life for service. Not military, social service. He is a teacher and has a legacy of almost 30 years. Before he came "out", I hate that word, he never changed in my eyes, my love didn't deminish when I heard the news. He wasn't less of a person because of a statement. But a question was there? I will tell you a story that made me realise that he was OK!!!! He told me that when he was in his early teens he wrestled with his heart and mind and prayed to God to help him conquer and overcome what he was feeling. He asked God to help change him and make him "normal". He told me he asked God to help him in his quest to find out who he was. One statement in his story was so true and sincere. He asked God to fix what he thought was broken. Over several years as a teen, he wrestled with God. He finally accepted that God seen no reason to change him, that he was being accepted for just who he was and was normal. Even with this message from God Almighty, he chose not to tell anyone, even his family. When he did tell our parents, let me tell you that Mom was in her seventies and Dad was in his eighties, they told him that was ok, he was still their baby boy. So with God's blessings and his parents blessing he preceded to tell the rest of his family. (I have 8 brothers, and 1 sister). There are those of us that are still unable to accept his being gay. I believe this "be true unto yourself and your God, and all else will fall into place." My husband served in the Air Force in the 60's. he never told me at that time that there were some gay guys in his squadron But after my brother told us who he was, he accepted him and said he ws no different than what he had always been. Why can't a government not see that DADT puts a soldier in a position of "fear". For the soldier that serves 4 or 5 tours of overseas duty, no matter where that may be, then be dismissed, treated as a criminal, and stigmatized as someone unclean, inferior, and not fit for service is ludicrous. The Sodier has already proven his worth. For the Government to wear blinders and not accept each soldier at face value is unconstitutional. DADT should be abolished. Yes Roger Samples is my baby brother.

  8. I served in the Air Force prior to DADT. The stress was horrible and then I was kicked out when someone turned me in. I was a good Airmen and received commendations others in my unit did not. I felt betrayed and still feel anger 26 years later. We weren't at war then and with the needs of todays military I find it ludicrous these outmoded ideas still limit our National Defense. I hope it changes soon, but I really don't have much hope for it.

  9. Thanks, Bryan.

    "Change this for me."

    I hope the people in Pentagon and President Obama are listening.