Easter in Tampa — Repealing DADT
April 5, 2010
I spent the day yesterday at the Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa where I was invited by Rev. Phyllis Hunt to speak to the large Easter congregation on the work HRC is doing to help repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" -- and to ask the congregation to help us in this effort. The MCC denomination was founded in 1968 by the Rev. Troy Perry as the first one to minister specifically to LGBT people. I talked about how HRC is working to create the same kind of inclusive place in society, where we can live, love and work in full equality, as the MCC church offers to all Christians who want to worship and serve equally with their sisters and brothers. The response was overwhelming! Over a hundred congregants signed our DADT postcards and over a dozen gay and lesbian veterans who have served our country from the time of the Korean war to the present signed on as members of our “Voices of Honor” coalition. As I talked to these veterans, I heard heartbreaking stories of how their inability to be out and open in the military—before and during DADT—led to abuses of gay and lesbian soldiers. I also heard stories of pride in serving our nation. One woman, who served 17 years in the Coast Guard, promised to bring me photographs of her days of service in uniform the next time I was in town. She is eager to tell Senator Nelson, when she visits his Tampa office, about her many years of service as a lesbian in the military, and that of many of her lesbian peers who served years with her in the Coast Guard. Other veterans were nervous that if they signed a postcard, or joined our coalition that somehow their veterans benefits would be taken away. Imagine having laid your life on the line for our country, and then being afraid that it can all be taken away because of who you are? These veterans all have powerful, personal, stories to tell and they intend to do it— in their hometown newspapers, in Senator Nelson’s district office, and at HRC’s Veterans Lobby Day in D.C. on May 11th.
July 1, 2014