HRC Blog

On the Road to Repeal DADT Now

The following post comes from Walker Burttschell, who was discharged from the Marines under "Don't Ask Don't Tell": On Thursday, May 20th, I began my walk from Norfolk, Virginia to Washington, D.C., on a personal quest to bring much needed public attention to the consequences of the current DADT law and to gather support from local communities. The first day of my walk took me through Norfolk, Hampton and Newport News. People would look at me with curiosity as I walked down Highway 60 headed North towards Richmond. Occasionally, a few people would approach me and assume I was in the military (green Voices of Honor t-shirt and a camouflage backpack) and ask if I was training. When I let them know that I was on my way to Washington, D.C. (by foot), their mouths would drop and the first thing they would ask is “why the hell don’t you drive?” I informed them I was doing this to bring attention to the current “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and to ask Senator Webb, one Marine to another, to support repeal. I tell them I was discharged from the Marines under this policy, a year after I had enlisted. I've generally received three types of responses: “That's insane!”, “They still do that?” and “How do I get ahold of Senator Webb?” Later that evening, I met an active duty Marine who had to be no older than 23 years old. He had locked his keys in his car and I offered to help him unlock his car (successfully I may add). I told him I was in the Marines as well and told him I was on my way to DC to ask Webb to support repeal. This Marine said, “this law is outdated and nobody really cares anymore about someone’s private life.” He signed one of the post cards and wrote in big letters, ACTIVE DUTY MARINE. Over the next few days, people I passed began to recognize me (from the newspapers and news) and would drive by honking their horns waving, smiling, walking up to me to shake my hand and to tell me they support what I am doing. Not once have I been harassed, and in fact 100% of the people that I have met with and spoken to are for the repeal of this law. That says a lot about the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Senator Webb should take note. I have to say, Virginia is one of the most patriotic parts of the country I have ever been in. The people are warm and cordial, the air has smelled of honeysuckle ever since I left Norfolk and the weather could not have been better for this walk. I’m looking forward to DC and meeting with Senator Webb and telling him that this Marine knows that this is the year to repeal DADT. Semper Fidelis - Walker Burttschell

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