- September 20, 2013
Eric Alva, Marine veteran and the first service member wounded in the Iraq war, commemorates the 2nd anniversary of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Two years ago today, the LGBT and allied community celebrated the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Since then, we’ve seen our openly gay and lesbian service members welcomed to the White House LGBT Pride Reception, an openly gay General Officer take the helm as the Army Brigadier General, and watched gay and lesbian service members attend military events without fear of losing their job because of who they love.
Indeed today we should pause commemorate these milestones. However, let us also remember the great obstacles that remain in our path to full equality.
Currently, there is no state law in 29 states there is no state law protecting an individuals from being fired for their sexual orientation – and the same is true in 33 states for gender identity and expression.
In August, I took to the podium at the city hall of my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, to testify in support extending the city’s nondiscrimination law to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and veteran status. Hundreds signed-up to testify both for and against the changes. Meanwhile, outside City Hall, about 300 people gathered for a prayer vigil in protest.
Never have I seen a city so divided and hateful toward each other.
As I spoke in support of provisions that would protect those I love and me, audience members erupted with boos. As an openly gay man that served and defended our great nation as part of the United States’ Marine, Corps I was hurt and appalled by the disrespect that stemmed from a place of anti-LGBT vitriol.
Thankfully – and after months of work on the ground -- equality prevailed in San Antonio and the ordinance passed in a vote of 8 to 3. Yet still too often the gavel falls on the wrong side of history. We must remain vigilant in the fight to combat homophobia and transphobia in order to continue to push our movement forward.
Today let us celebrate the end of DADT by renewing our commitment to the fight for LGBT equality.