Best gay blog. Towleroad Wins Award

Military Hub



04/19/2007


Gay Marine Vet's 'Other Than Honorable' Discharge Revised

Halfaulkner2In a New York Times op-ed published this Saturday, writer Frank Bruni detailed the story of Marine veteran Hal Faulkner and his "other than honorable" discharge from the United States military. In 1956, Faulkner's commanding officer found out that the sergeant, who had risen in the ranks over several successful years, was gay; he was asked to leave despite his otherwise perfect record, and until 2013 those words, "other than honorable," kept Faulkner's great service in the dark. The story, intensified by the former Marine's limited time--given an unfortunate and untimely cancer diagnosis--truly serves as a reminder of the military's intensely homophobic past.

The New York Times reports:

“They gave up on me,” he said, referring to the Marines. “I never forget it.” He was haunted in particular by those three words — “other than honorable” — and wanted more than anything to have them excised from his epitaph. That became his dying wish: that those words not outlive him.

Before federal law was changed in 2011, more than 110,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people were discharged from the United States military over time because of their sexual orientation. And until the 1990s, when the policy tweak known as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” vaguely softened the prohibition against gays in the armed services, it was common for such discharges to be dishonorable ones that barred gay veterans from receiving any benefits and sometimes disqualified them from civilian jobs they later sought.

But now that the military accepts gays, there is also a process that permits those who were dishonorably discharged to appeal for reclassifications of those dismissals as honorable. A military spokesman said last week that he didn’t know how many veterans had sought to take advantage of it, or with what success. But Hal caught wind of it, and knew that he had to try.

HalfaulknerFaulkner's desire to have his discharge appealed was seemingly an extension of not only the anguish of that singular act but also a lifetime of closeted service in various industries, from the 1950's to the 1970's. Still, despite his dwindling time, Hal Faulkner (seated in wheelchair in photo at right) was able to see the fruit of all those difficult years, as his revision appeal was accepted. 

John read from the letter, including its assurance that Hal’s military record would “be corrected to show that he received an honorable discharge.” When Hal took the letter from him, he didn’t hold it so much as knead it, pressing tighter and tighter, maybe because he was visibly fighting tears.

“I don’t have much longer to live,” he said, “but I shall always remember it.” He thanked Anne. He thanked his nieces. He thanked the Marines. He even thanked people in the room whom he had no reason to thank.

Someone went off to mix him a Scotch-and-soda, and he finally gave in. He sobbed.

“It’s often said that a man doesn’t cry,” he said. “I am a Marine and I am a man. So please forgive me.”

His remarks hung there, because he’d used the present tense. Am a Marine. And because he was saying he was sorry, this veteran whose country owed him an apology for too long.

Good luck to all LGBT military service members seeking an appeal for similar discharges--they are much deserved. 

Read Bruni's full post HERE.

Photos via NYT.


Stephen Hill, Heckled Gay Army Captain From 2012 YouTube Debate, Opens Up

Hill

The LA Times offers an in-depth profile on former Army Captain Stephen Hill, who famously came out via a YouTube question he posed to the 2012 Republican presidential candidates regarding a potential re-instatement of Don’t Ask Don’t tell (which was repealed in September, 2011). You’ll recall Hill’s question garnered boos from the audience and a less than encouraging response from then Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. The LA Times provides a fascinating look at everything that led up to Hill’s decision to reveal who he was to the world and to put those vying to lead the country he had served for 23 years on the spot on an issue that hit home:

If [any of the Republican candidates win in 2012 and reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell], he could lose his career. His uniform. His pension. His identity as a soldier. His honorable discharge. Everything.

He learns that Google and YouTube are hosting a nationally televised debate in Orlando, Fla., for the nine Republican presidential candidates. They are accepting questions...

Uniform

He closes his door. Instead of his combat fatigues, he wears a T-shirt that says ARMY. It is less official, he reasons, and therefore less likely to get him in trouble if he is discovered. It also displays his gigantic biceps, which he has not spent 20 years developing so he can hide them.

His face, he hides.

I'm a gay soldier and there's been a lot of progress made in the military with the abolishment of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' My question is that under one of your presidencies would you try to change what's been made for progress for gay people in the military?

He sends it in and waits. Viewers are allowed to vote on potential questions, and he is informed that his question is a hit. But now YouTube has another, much scarier request:

Would you consider revealing your identity?

Hill doesn't need time to consider. There's no chance. He has too much to lose.

[His husband, Jeff] Snyder reminds him that they are now married, and that it would not be hard for his command to discover this, and that if the ban is reinstated, he will be kicked out anyway...

In the subject line of his next email to YouTube, he writes: I have reconsidered.

The rest, they say is history. You can read the rest of the profile HERE.


First Gay Marriage Ceremony Held at North Carolina's Fort Bragg: VIDEO

Bragg

Fort Bragg in North Carolina saw its first gay marriage ceremony on Saturday as Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor celebrated in the historic Main Post Chapel, the News Observer reports:

Toven, 44, is commander and conductor of the Army Ground Forces Band at Fort Bragg. Taylor, 24, is a registered nurse in a Fayetteville-area hospital and a pre-med student at Fayetteville Technical Community College and Methodist University.

The couple will continue to live in Fayetteville. Toven is the son of Gordon and Mona Lou Toven of Reynoldsville, Pa. Taylor’s parents are Michelle and Ben Miles of Rockingham.

Toven wore his Army service uniform, with a dark blue coat and royal blue pants, and carried his ceremonial saber. Taylor wore a morning suit: a black cutaway jacket over dark gray pants.

Watch the couple's joyful and hilarious attempt to exit the chapel in front of family and friends, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "First Gay Marriage Ceremony Held at North Carolina's Fort Bragg: VIDEO" »


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Says All Rogue States Have Complied with Orders Regarding Gay Spousal Benefits

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released the following statement this morning:

HagelOn Oct. 31, I called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. Following consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and retirees - including same-sex spouses - are now able to obtain ID cards in every state. All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law. All of DoD is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve.

On Monday we reported that Mississippi was the final state left which had not complied with the orders.

The Washington Blade adds:

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mississippi, the last remaining hold-out state, came on board sometime this week, although the official didn’t have an exact date for when that happened. The official said Mississippi is adopting a policy similar to Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, which are placing state workers on federal status to process same-sex benefit applications.


First Gay Marriage Announcement Made at U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Afa

Buzzfeed reports on the engagement of Kaitlin Ward (left) and Lauren Bloch (right), who recently made history at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy:

It’s a tradition at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., that when a cadet becomes engaged to be married, the lucky man or woman’s friends will announce the engagement to the entire corps in the wardroom at lunchtime, the one meal that all four years of students eat together. On Thursday, Dec. 5, the announcement was a little different. “Over the weekend, Cadet First Class Kaitlin Ward got down on one knee and proposed to her longtime girlfriend, Lauren Bloch. This is the first announcement of its type.”

There was a brief moment of silence as the room realized the significance of the announcement — the first in the school’s 137-year history — before the corps of cadets started cheering and whooping for their classmate and her fiancée, the latest couple who had met and fallen in love at the academy.

More on their story here.

Congrats!


Georgia National Guard Complies on Gay Spousal Benefits

The Georgia National Guard says it will fall in line with orders from the Pentagon that it process spousal benefits for gay married coupes, the Washington Blade reports:

GeorgiaMajor Jon Craig, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson, said Georgia had agreed to process applications to grant same-sex spouses military IDs last week in a decision along the lines of Texas and Louisiana.

“With Georgia, what it came down to was the authorization to put some state employees on temporary federal status,” Craig said.

Georgia had been one of two remaining states that had refused to enroll the spouses of gay troops into the benefit system in the aftermath of an edict for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying military spousal benefits should be available to troops in same-sex marriages nationwide. These states had cited state constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage as the reasons why they couldn’t comply.

Mississippi is the only state left that has not resolved the issue. Talks are ongoing and the state is not commenting.


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged