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    Posted September 4, 2010 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Salute to troops

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    Gay Veterans honored by the City of Chicago


    September 3, 2010 – Richard J Daley Plaza

    Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaims LGBT Veterans Day on September 3, 2010.

    American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) presented With Liberty and Justice for All at noon. The hour long ceremony included speeches and remarks from various city and state officials. Congressman Mike Quigley was encouraging everyone to have faith that the repeal on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be pushed through to the Senate after the Labor Day holiday.

    Also in attendance were veterans and service people who served in the military. Many proud to state how they honorably serve our country, yet disgusted with the way LGBT have to hide their personal lives. Ann Bidwell, perhaps most vocal on how she had to hide her relationship with her partner. To put the shoe on the other foot scenario: speculated what Senator McCain would do if his relationship with his wife Cindy, if it were outlawed. She supposed that he would not hide his relationship. Yet those in service are forced to do just that at the hand of Senator McCain and his homophobic counter parts. Somehow, according to them, being a homosexual affects judgment and ability to serve. If this reverse logic is followed through, then it could be speculated that Senator McCain’s heterosexuality clouds his ability to make a decision and should be considered a threat to national security. Stone-aged thinking like this is the reason for the repeal being brought up for discussion and action. It is just plain silly, stupid and outdated.

    When you think about it further, people like Senator McCain and Congressman Kirk hurt our troops with discriminatory practices like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, by increasing the frequency of troop deployment times. Rejecting people because they are homosexual means less troops and longer deployments for straight and closeted troops. Homosexuality has nothing to do with troop unit cohesion, ability to make a decision or ability to maintain a security clearance, any more so than Senator McCain or Congressman Kirk to do the same.

    To further the argument that Senator McCain and Congressman Kirk are doing disservice to the troops, they are setting the troops up for failure when they leave the military. Since nearly all large companies have Equal Opportunities policies and embrace a diverse work environment, many troops transitioning into these work environments may find themselves passed over in a time of limited employment because of their homophobic ideology that is protected under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. The people who do slip into EEOC companies filled with hatred to the LGBT community, stand out like sore thumb. This would force them into a Homophobic Closet, where they are forced to hide who they really are. Not to mention that most states now have anti-discrimination laws that would make up for the balance of the companies that don’t have such anti-discrimination policies implemented on their own. So, again, how does Don’t Ask Don’t Tell help the troops?

    Many people speaking were victims of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Forced to serve in silence or being outted and persecuted through military processes. People only wanting to serve their country with honor and integrity -- no differently from their heterosexual service members.

    As a gay veteran, I was honored that the Mayor made such a proclamation that I could share a day of honor among my daughter and partner. Celebrating the dedication that I have given to my country through two wars in the Army and the Navy. I am very proud of the 13 years of service that I gave my country, and yet horribly ashamed of the homophobic banner they shield themselves in.

    We all swore to defend this country. When I swore to defend this country, I didn’t exclude anyone…..even those that can’t see past their hatred, misguided logic and ignorance to do the right thing.

    Support ALL our troops!

    Please read the ChicagoNow article as well: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/lenox-second-city/2010/09/a-salute-to-chicagos-lgbt-veterans.html

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