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Renewing Our Promise

On Sunday afternoon, I had the honor, along with Daniel Hays of the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, of presiding at an event at Congressional Cemetery in SE Washington DC. In addition to the hundreds of Civil War veterans buried there and numerous Senators and Representatives, the Congressional Cemetery is the final resting place for Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, USAF, a Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. As many of you know, Sergeant Matlovich was one of the first openly gay service members to fight to stay in the military.

Some of you may recall that Sergeant Matlovich appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975 issue of Time magazine, with the caption: “I Am a Homosexual” - The Gay Drive for Acceptance.

Sergeant Matlovich’s tombstone does not bear his name as he meant it to be a memorial for all gay veterans. It reads: “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

I find it hard to believe that this can happen in our great country; yet 34 years later, the drive for acceptance continues. We gathered at Congressional Cemetery to renew our promise to Sergeant Matlovich and the thousands of other gay veterans and active duty service members still living under DADT - a promise that we will not give up our fight until this destructive, un-American and counterproductive law is repealed.