Out on the Hill: Senators and Service Members Mark End of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
September 20, 2011 by Dan Rafter, Associate Director of Communications
Service members finally able to be open about who they are appeared on Capitol Hill today with lawmakers to mark the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law. First Lieutenant Josh Seefried, OutServe Co-Founder and Co-Director, Technical Sargeant Jonathan Mills and Captain Sarah Pezzat joined Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to share their stories about what repeal meant to them.
Senator Lieberman identified tackling discrimination as a front line in the modern day fight for equality. He called his participation in the process to repeal DADT “satisfying and thrilling,” and said it was a great honor to “right this wrong.” Senator Collins read a postcard from a service member currently deployed in Afghanistan who, because DADT was still in effect at the time, had to sign as “an Army soldier.” He told Collins that in exchange for her support of DADT repeal, he would continue to serve with professionalism in the Army. Sen. Coons said we’re “setting our feet as a nation on the path to a more perfect union.”
First Lieutenant Seefried, who until recently went under the pseudonym JD Smith, introduced himself and, for the first time, was able to openly identify as a gay First Lieutenant. He said the end of DADT lifted a burden from his shoulders, and reiterated that today is “business as usual” in the armed services.
Reservist and DC police officer Sarah Pezzat said in her remarks: “I’m 31 years old. I’m a woman. I’m a US Marine. And I’m a lesbian.” Pezzat spoke to the strength of the Marine Corps and their ability to successfully implement repeal, saying “The Marine Corps only gets stronger today. Semper fi.”
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