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Courage will Persevere

While it was great to hear the President’s vow in his State of the Union address to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year, we know he can’t do it without Congress. And there are some pretty powerful members who will try to stop him. One of them is Rep. Ike Skelton, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman.

So when I heard that Ike was going to speak at a Rotary Club meeting in Kansas City Thursday, I jumped at the chance to join several members of the City Council and Jackson County Legislature for a press conference at the site where the Congressman was speaking. The bitter cold didn’t matter—this is too important to let that stand in our way. In fact, repealing DADT is too important to let a powerful chairman stand in the way.

Three local TV stations, a couple of newspapers, and one talk radio station were at our press conference. A group of concerned, supportive citizens came out into the frigid cold to hold signs asking Ike to hold hearings on repealing the ban. I introduced myself as a member of the Class of 1989, United States Air Force Academy, and explained why the repeal of DADT is so important to me.

While in medical school, I became a victim of the oft-ignored “Don’t Pursue” portion of the policy. After being stalked and threatened to be outed, I was forced to out myself in an attempt to keep my sanity and protect my honorable service record. If it wasn’t for SLDN and countless hours of work on my behalf by Stacey Sobel and Kathi Wescott, I’m not sure I could have survived the two-plus year process of being investigated prior to being discharged.

I was discharged from the Air Force on September 10, 2001. It was ironic that just a day before it became clear our military was going to need the best and brightest to defend our freedom, I was kicked out. I am a doctor; I have valuable skills to offer my country. But simply because I am gay, my government said I’m not fit to serve.

According to the Kansas City Star, Skelton still opposes repeal—not a big surprise. But, now he knows, and the media and our other elected officials in Washington now know we won’t sit idly by while some, who stand in the way of doing what’s right, try to keep honorable men and women from serving our country with integrity and dignity.