Let me finish tonight with a letter from a soldier fighting in Afghanistan.
“I found out this soldier under my command was gay. I learned about it after he died, when his longtime partner wrote to me, not knowing my orientation, to tell me how much this staff sergeant had loved the army; how we were the only family he’d ever known. In my own life, my partner has none of the privileges of a spouse. We have weathered three long deployments like any other couple might. My partner and I have happily accepted my various assignments because we’re truly committed to the army, its soldiers and their families. But after our ten years together, my partner has earned the right to be told first about my death. He has earned the right to be recognized for his sacrifices just as any other spouse. I deeply believe that America is fighting the right fight in Afghanistan. I believe in this battle against our enemies. And, I believe that the U.S. Army is the single greatest force for good the world has ever known. But I want to tell the guys I eat lunch with every day about my partner. After all, these are the guys I risk my life with – the guys who think they know me. I can tell you every detail of how each of them met their wives; how one of them still feels guilty about an affair he never had, but thought about; how one of them cried so hard the day his son was born. Yet they don’t know much about my life. Over the years, I have become good at evading and changing subjects artfully. To slip up – using the wrong pronoun when describing whom I was with during R&R, or mentioning who I talked to on Skype last night-is no longer something I worry about. I have become so good at this lying game it eats at my soul. A week ago, two of my friends were killed in a bombing. The days since then have bled into each other. It is usually not until the evening that I allow myself to think about these things. I will risk my life; I ask to be treated simply like anyone else in the service, nothing more and nothing less.”That’s from a serviceman fighting for his country. I’d like to tell you his name so you could send him a note of support. Instead, you might want to call a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee which votes tomorrow on “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here’s the phone number for the U.S. Senate: 202-224-3121.
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