Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thank you and Happy 4th of July to all TBGL veterans and active duty.

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

This 4th of July, our country has turned 237 years old and out of those years, this is the first year TBGL military personnel and veterans can say their freedom has been truly well fought and won. For decades in our country’s history, TBGL people have had to deny who they were or who they love in order to risk or give their lives for this country. They’ve suffered years of military informants causing them to receive dishonorable discharges and ruining the lives of many, during many wars. In the 90’s a compromised was made under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and many  TBGL service members with families chose to keep their home life completely separate from work, while others faced investigation for actions such as listing a dependent child or partner on military paper work. Marriage to someone of the same sex was grounds for discharge. Even after Don’t Ask, Don’t tell was repealed TBGL families continued to be treated differently as the families of their straight peers.

In June, during national Pride Month 2013, a landmark ruling came down from the Supreme Court of the United States, federally, marriage was made legal. In the 13 states that have same-sex marriage it meant TBGL marriages were recognized not only by those states, but now by the federal government. Hours after this ruling, the Pentagon was quick to announce that it would move to quickly extend all benefits given to opposite sex spouses to same-sex couples including I.D. cards, medical, dental and housing allowances. Even more moving, Defense officials also said that same sex spouses would now have the same rights to be buried alongside war veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also states that “The Department of Defense will move very swiftly, expeditiously, on implementing the law, the decision of the Supreme Court. We think it’s the right decision, and we’re looking forward to taking that decision and implementing the required next steps.” Along with the new benefits given, same-sex spouses will receive official identification cards that will entitle them to equal access to military bases, child care programs, military commissaries, gyms and other facilities open to military families, and under review, is making it possible for same-sex personnel to bring their spouses to overseas tours in countries like Germany and Japan.

We have come a long way from the days of being persecuted within the military, but one step remains. There still remain many transgender people who must put off their transition or regress in order to continue serving in the military and those that have transitioned are still not allowed to list in military service. Those serving, that risk seeking treatment from civilian health care providers are at risk because they have a duty to report such treatment to the military. Failure to abide by these regulations could result in criminal prosecution by the military, resulting in discipline, discharge or criminal prosecution. For many Transgender service people Don’t ask, Don’t tell continues.

There is hope, with the recent ruling on DOMA, the work going on at the National Center for Transgender equality, the recent publication of a novel of a Navy Seal coming out as Transgender; the talk has begun of allowing Transgender people to serve. It may still be in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell phase, but communication has begun. The Palm Center is commissioning 11 studies to enhance the quality of information available for evaluating Transgender service in the United States military. In May the Pentagon officially recognized a Navy veteran’s change of gender. With DOMA gone, Cis-gender military personnel can now marry their pre-op Transgender spouses just as those that have post op spouses and receive military benefits as same-sex couples.

Large steps have been made and few steps yet to go, but TBGL veterans have risk their lives for 236 years for this country’s freedom even though freedom was not extended to them. All veterans are to be thanked today, but my TBGL veterans to me, you have made the greatest sacrifice of all; to give, fight and die for something you didn’t have yourself. We can’t underestimate how difficult it has been for 236 years for TBGL people. They have given the greatest sacrifice of all and TMP salutes you from the bottom of my heart, this is your year. This is your first true year of freedom and it's just the beginning, Happy 4th of July.

And a Happy 4th to all that have found new freedom now that DOMA is no longer.

Additional information for TBGL active military and veterans:



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