Final DADT Repeal Day: Reflections by Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Beth F. Coye
I served my country for the majority of my 21 years of active duty as a closeted lesbian. Reflecting upon the meaning of this day of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s repeal, I am filled with joy and happiness: As of 20 September, our country now stands proudly for freedom and justice for her military members who happen to be gay, lesbian or bisexual. Discriminatory behaviors and wrong-headed policies and laws toward military gays began two hundred and thirty-three (233) years ago when George Washington discharged the first soldier for being gay. Years and years of work by Americans — straight and gay — brought about this momentous civil rights change.
While this day is bittersweet for military gays who chose to wrestle with an unfair professional environment while on active duty (or were forced to leave under the old policy), I know each one of them feels proud to have served the United States of America and is thrilled for those servicemembers who can now, if they choose to be out, stand tall as gay military members as well as serve with more solid feelings of honor, dignity and integrity. I am proud and honored to have served our UU community as we worked continuously to arrive at this special moment in American history. To those UUs who were on the front lines of “battle” towards changing the hearts and minds of our politico-military leaders about what it means to be gay or lesbian, I send you a huge thank you!