HRC Blog

One Veteran Reflects on DADT Repeal Fight

The following post comes from John Affuso who lives in Newton, MA and is an Army Veteran who chose not to re-enlist due to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: In 1989, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey Army National Guard.    At the same I was proudly serving my country, I figured out that I am gay.  Shortly thereafter,  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell  was passed by Congress.  During the last seventeen years over 14,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers have been discharged from military service.  Thousands more, including me, chose not to re-enlist, because we could not continue to serve while in constant fear of being found out and kicked out.  Countless others chose to never enlist.  A few weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C.  and joined hundreds of fellow gay and lesbian veterans as we lobbied Congress for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Meeting so many gay veterans like me, was empowering. This week, I returned to Washington to help to complete our important mission.  As I write this, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House are poised to vote on legislation that will begin the process to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  I am disappointed that my Senator, Scott Brown, a JAG officer in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, says he will not vote for repeal.   His opposition to the legislation is puzzling, as it provides the Pentagon with the time that they need to complete their work prior to the implementation of repeal.  I have been honored and humbled to be in the company of my fellow veterans over the past few weeks. We are a powerful and patriotic voice in this debate; a voice that will not be silenced.   All that we ever wanted was to serve our country, without fear of being discharged simply because of who we are or who we love.  While our individual stories may differ, we share a common bond of proud, patriotic military service to our country, as well as a deep, personal understanding of the damaging effects of this misguided and painful law. I first spoke out against DADT in 1993 and will continue to speak out until this discriminatory law is repealed.  Thank you HRC, SLDN, the dozens of advocacy organizations, and the thousands of GLBT and straight folks from across the country that are fighting so hard for repeal. With your help, we veterans won’t leave our brothers and sisters in uniform behind and we won’t rest until we will win this battle - you can count on it.

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