Letters From Military Families on DADT
BY Advocate.com Editors
August 23 2010 11:45 AM ET
There were so many things that we had to be careful about. For example,
Joan had asked that I not call her at work unless it was truly an
emergency. When we were out in public if Joan saw someone from work, I
learned to “disappear,” until Joan’s co-worker moved on. We didn’t dare
go to nice restaurants on Valentine’s Day or even Saturday nights. We
could not show any familiarity while out in public. I went to parties at
colleagues' homes alone lest a guest I didn't know learn that Joan was
in the Navy.
The events of September 11, 2001, caused us both
appreciate more fully the true impact of DADT on our lives and the
reality of our mutual sacrifices. At 8:30 a.m. that morning, Joan went
to a meeting in the Pentagon. At 9:30 a.m., she left that meeting. At
9:37 a.m., the plane flew into the Pentagon and destroyed the exact
space that Joan had left less than eight minutes earlier, killing seven
of her colleagues.
In the days and weeks that followed, Joan went
to several funerals and memorial services for her co-workers who had
been killed. Most people attended these services with their spouses
whose support was critical at this difficult time, yet Joan was forced
to go alone, even though I really wanted to be with her to provide
As the numbness began to wear off, it hit me how
incredibly alone I would have been had Joan been killed. The military is
known for how it pulls together and helps people; we talk of the
"military family," which is a way of saying we always look after each
other, especially in times of need. But, none of that support would have
been available for me, because under DADT, I didn’t exist.
fact, I would have been one of the last people to know had Joan been
killed, because nowhere in her paperwork or emergency contact
information had Joan dared to list my name.
Whenever I hear Joan
recount the events of that day, I relive it and realize all over again
how devastated I would have been had she been killed. I also think of
the partners of service members injured or killed in Iraq and
Afghanistan. They are unable to get any support from the military and
they must be careful about the amount of support they offer to their
closeted service member loved ones.
The events of September 11th
caused us to stop and reassess exactly what was most important in our
lives. During that process, we realized that this discriminatory law was
causing us to make a much bigger sacrifice than either of us had ever
Eight months later, in June 2002, Joan retired from the
U.S. Navy, and I retired from the Library of Congress. If it wasn’t for
DADT, we might both still be serving in our respective positions.