HRC Blog

Vet Eric Alva Responds to AZ Mayor Who Says “Limp-Wristed” Can’t Serve Country

This post comes from Eric Alva, a gay Marine veteran who was the first service member injured in the Iraq War: This Memorial Day was an especially poignant one for me. Just days earlier -- and after years of effort -- Congress was finally on its way to repealing the discriminatory “Don't Ask Don't Tell” law. Based upon antiquated fears of gay and lesbian people, this shameful policy has led to the unjust discharges of over 14,000 servicemembers. Many thousands more like myself have been forced to lie about our loved ones in order to serve the country that we love. But for some, apparently old prejudices die hard. Speaking at the Desert Lawn Cemetery in Yuma, AZ on Memorial Day, Mayor Al Krieger used this solemn occasion to denigrate the service of these Americans. Referencing the recent repeal of DADT, Krieger said:

"I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past."

These hateful words are absolutely inconsistent with the unbending physical and mental courage that I encountered among all of the men and women with whom I served, whether gay or straight. Many members in my unit knew I was gay -- and this simple truth never once came in the way of our ability to do our job. It didn't stop Navy corpsman Brian Alaniz from heroically coming to my aid after I stepped on a landmine, earning me the dubious distinction of being the first casualty in the Iraq War. Minutes later, he would become the second casualty of the war. Since then, we have stood by each other -- literally -- as we learned to walk again with our new prosthetic legs. Because of my injuries, my wrist might not be as strong as it once was, but my fidelity to this country and its founding ideals has never once wavered. Gay and lesbian service members have always fought to defend this country -- soon, we will be able to do so as equals. On the next Memorial Day, I ask Al Krieger to remember our sacrifices, too.

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