Today is never easy for me. On the day when we are supposed to honor our veterans, those still with us and those who have gone before, my head is always filled with memories. For over ten years I was part of a family that only 5% of Americans ever know. Sometimes I miss it – the uniform, the unique family dynamic, the sense of mission. I wish I could go back to that. Then I think about how soul-crushingly hard it was, what I endured, both as a servicewoman and later as a silent partner. I think about what it is to live as a lesbian veteran with a disability. Then I take a deep breath, let it out, and try to let the memories, the anger and bitterness, go with it.
Today is a day to honor all our servicemembers. As we here in the LGBT community know, not all of our servicemembers or their families will be honored today. Many are still serving in silence and fear, toiling under the burden of lies and bigotry that is “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” Those of us who are now out and can speak of it are often erased, invalidated, our stories smothered because the Powers That Be don't want us to be heard. This is especially true for women and minority LGB veterans.
Rep. Patrick Murphy has been our staunchest ally in Congress for lifting the ban on honest service by LGB troops. In collaboration with Courage Campaign, he is collecting signatures of Americans who want to see the Senate vote for the NDAA bill with the DADT repeal amendment intact. I'm asking that each and every one of you, if you haven't already, sign the appropriate petition, and then pick up the phone and call the offices of your Senators, and Sens. Carl Levin and Harry Reid. Tell them to honor the service of ALL troops, and bring the full NDAA bill to the floor for a vote. Call the White House and tell them there that the Commander-in-Chief has to get off his chair and lead.
See below the fold for Rep. Murphy's message, links to the petitions, and phone numbers.
Blessed Remembrance Day/Veterans Day/Armistice Day to all.
After September 11, I volunteered to fight for my country. I became a Captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded a Bronze Star while serving in Iraq. While in Baghdad, I counseled many active-duty servicemembers who came to me with tortured souls, concerned that their sexual orientation might end their military careers, as a result of the military's discriminatory “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.
One particular soldier's internal conflict was profound. I can still remember his pained and heartbreaking questions. Should he lie? Should he tell the truth and then be kicked out of the Army? What would he do if he was wounded and couldn't tell the person he loved?
When I ran for public office in 2006, I became the first Iraq war veteran to be elected to Congress. Unfortunately, my time in the House of Representatives will be coming to an end soon — but I still have some unfinished business. Last May, I promised those young men and women whom I counseled that I would do everything in my power to put an end to DADT so they could serve their country openly and proudly.
That's why I led the fight in the House to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” passing historic legislation in May that is now in limbo in the Senate. With Veterans Day coming up on Thursday and only a few weeks left until the Senate's lame-duck session ends, the clock is running out on repeal — perhaps for years to come.
Now I'm asking you to help me finish the job. With the lame-duck session starting Monday, I need you to sign the Courage Campaign's petition to Senators Reid, Levin, McConnell and McCain immediately. Once the U.S. Senate is back in session, I'll deliver your signature — and nearly 600,000 other signatures collected by Courage supporting repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”
To amplify the voices of those most impacted by this policy, we're looking for veterans — and their friends, family and neighbors — to take action before Veterans Day. Whether you are a veteran, or just want to sign on in support, please click one of the following two links:
Even though a CNN poll showed that 78% of Americans think the ban should end and even though the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said it should end, John McCain and others still think this is a political issue.
It's not a political issue. It's a matter of national security. It's a matter of integrity. It's a matter of honor.
We've worked hard over the last two years to end this discriminatory policy. Let's get the job done.
Representative Patrick Murphy
Phone numbers to the offices of the Senators who need a push (202 area codes are the Washington, D.C. offices; the Senators will be back there Monday):
D – ARKANSAS
The River Market, 500 Clinton Ave Ste 401, Little Rock, AR 72201
D – ARKANSAS
912 West Fourth Street, Little Rock, AR 72201
D – INDIANA
1650 Market Tower, 10 West Market St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
One Canal Plaza, Suite 802, Portland, ME 04101
R – MAINE
3 Canal Plaza, Suite 601, Portland, ME 04101
R – MASSACHUSETTS
2400 JFK Federal Building, 55 New Sudbury Street, Boston, MA 02203
216-522-7095, 513-684-3265, 419-259-3895
1240 East 9th Street, Room 3061, Cleveland, OH 44199
101 12th Ave, Room 216, Fairbanks, AK 99701
180 Market Tower, 10 West Market St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
804-771-2221 276-679-4925 757-518-1674 540-772-4236
507 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219
7700 Bonhomme, #615 St. Louis, MO 63105
202-225-4835 (Congressional office)
847-940-0202 (local Congressional office)
707 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 350, Northbrook, IL 60062
125 North Main Street, Concord, NH 03301
1-888-438-2731 (governor's line)
304-205-5889 (senate campaign office phone)
803-933-0112 864-250-1417 803-366-2828
508 Hampton Street, Suite 202, Columbia, SC
702-388-5020 775-882-7343 775-686-5750
Lloyd D. George Bldg., 333 Las Vegas Blvd S, Suite 8016 Las Vegas, NV 89101
124 West Allegan, Suite 1810, Lansing, MI
Call the White House at 202-456-1111. Let the Commander-in-Chief know that he isn't off the hook.