HRC Blog

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Gets Personal in Florida

The following post comes from Alenette Opena, a graduate student at Florida International University: FL 116Life is full surprises and irony! I met the forces behind Human Rights Campaign’s “Voices of Honor” for the first time on April 7, 2010 during Florida International University’s Pride Week, of which I am a planning committee member. It was also during this time when my girlfriend expressed her desire to reenlist and serve again, implicitly asking for my understanding and support. And I do. My love for her supersedes my campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” While I respect and fully support her choice, I am also well aware of other brave and courageous service members like J. Alexander Nicholson III, who was discharged from the military because of DADT just six months after 9/11; Walker Burttschell, who witnessed a friend and fellow Marine endure discharge proceedings, and at the same FL 105time was himself ‘outed’; Jarrod Chlapowski, who after witnessing the discharges of his fellow service members, chose not to re-enlist because of DADT’s excessive burden. Their stories can be framed as civil rights issues, and more importantly as a national security issue. the United States has suffered the loss of so many well-trained linguists and talent due to DADT. My support for the repeal of DADT translated into action last Saturday, April 17th, during Miami-Beach Gay Pride ’10. With the leadership and guidance of HRC’s David Contreras Turley, I and other volunteers marched and launched a "stop and call" campaign, garnering over 150 phone calls and 400 postcards to Sen. Bill Nelson's office. I also secured the support of my straight and veteran friends. Repeal DADT logo-white-600Why am I volunteering for HRC’s Repeal DADT Campaign? I am doing it for my girlfriend, who made the brave and selfless decision to serve her country in honorable silence. I am doing it for those who simply want to serve their country, despite and because of their sexual orientation. I feel the impact of DADT first-hand, so I am fighting for its repeal with all my energy. I refuse to accept that my girlfriend should continue to serve in fear. I refuse to live in an world made less safe by an irrational, discriminatory law that prevents the most skilled and talented American men and women from serving their country. Please visit, read the stories of our service members, and join us in our effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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