- September 13, 2013
Post submitted by Diane Martin, HRC Religion & Faith Program
Retired military officer and celebrated advocate for equality, Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard passed away this Wednesday, September 11, 2013.
During his thirty-two year service in the United States Military, General Richard worked tirelessly as an advocate for the rights of all American service members. Among his many other duties and accomplishments, he was a charter member of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy and he served on the Military Advisory Council for OutServe-SLDN, helping the newly established group gain credibility and traction in the fight for equal rights for LGBT military personnel.
Even when he retired after more than thirty years of service, General Richard continued to have a powerful impact on the United States Military and its LGBT service members. In 2003, on the tenth anniversary of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and in the early days of the struggle against it, General Richard joined a small group of retired, high-ranking military officers who publicly came out. At that time, many minds and eyes were still closed to the struggle of LGBT Americans; however, these officers sparked a much needed conversation about the unjust DADT legislation and highlighted its potentially negative impact on the armed forces.
General Richard came out, spoke out, and fought for those who, because they continued to serve their country as LGBT persons in the military, could not fight for themselves. His contributions to the fight for LGBT equality will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to General Richard’s family, friends and colleagues in this time of mourning.