HRC Blog

Veterans Talk DADT Repeal in Texas

The following post comes from Tim Hanson, HRC Houston's Political Co-Chair: Last weekend, the HRC Austin Steering Committee hosted the Voices of Honor Tour for local straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers and veterans to speak out against the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. When planning the event, I knew it was going to be an emotional day, but I don’t think anyone was ready for the stories we heard. After the screening of the PBS documentary "Ask Not", the veterans shared their stories. We began with Neal Hittner, a straight ally who served with gays and lesbians while on active duty in the U.S. Army:

“Everyone knew who was gay or straight and no one cared. We took care of one another, and formed a bond that has lasted for nearly two decades—they are my brothers.”

Paul Dodd, a retired colonel and U.S. Army Chaplin, also serves on the Military Advisory Council of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Paul highlighted the current state of DADT on Capitol Hill and the importance of HRC’s Voices of Honor as a call to action:

“People need to hear firsthand the devastation DADT has done—not only to the servicemembers, but also to the U.S. Military.”

Then came the heart-wrenching story of Lauren Thomas. After a stellar seven-year career with the Air Force, Lauren was accused of being a lesbian after she rebuffed the romantic advances of a female airman:

“They took everything I had worked so hard for. They revoked my acceptance to Officer Training School, none of my friends wanted to be associated with me... This is the first time I have ever publicly spoken about what was done to me.”

As a fellow veteran, words can’t express the honor I have for Neal, Paul and Lauren—for sharing their stories, speaking out against DADT, and joining HRC on the frontlines against discrimination. Check out HRC's Austin Voices of Honor Tour on the radio: More photos from the event are posted on Flickr:

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