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Marine Corps Celebrates Pride, Puts Down Homophobes

Marines

When a commenter on a Facebook Pride post defended "don't ask, don't tell," an officer pointed out that heterosexuals had never been kicked out of the military due to their sexuality.

"The few, the proud, the Marines" are taking pride in diversity and inclusion -- and defending LGBTQ+ members against internet trolls.

A graphic celebrating Pride Month and noting that 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was posted Monday on the Facebook page for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C. President Barack Obama signed a DADT repeal bill into law in December 2010, although it did not take effect until the following September.

Many of the comments on the post were positive, such as "I support anyone that's willing to fight for my freedom," "Who you love has nothing to do with wanting to serve your country," and "I'm proud that this page posted a graphic in celebration of Pride." Some commenters complimented Staff Sgt. Rebecca L. Floto's artwork as well.

But a few anti-LGBTQ+ types commented negatively and defended DADT, a policy that was designed to let lesbian, gay, and bisexual people stay in the military as long as they were closeted, supposedly an improvement over the previous outright ban. The armed forces, however, continued to investigate suspected LGB service members and kick them out if there was sufficient evidence -- resulting in the discharges of more than 13,600 over the life of the policy. (The policy didn't mention transgender people, who at the time were considered unfit to serve.)

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One commenter wrote, "The don't ask don't tell worked just fine," to which Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough, a communications officer at Parris Island, offered this comeback: "I would imagine all the LGBT that was kicked out of the service would disagree. No heterosexuals were kicked out due to sexuality. The policy was terrible and needed to go away."

Another said the Pride graphic went "totally against my morals and beliefs" and said the Marine Corps has come under "influences that do not belong." Yarbrough responded, "No one is asking you do anything but accept them as themselves."

And to one who said the Marines shouldn't be "a freaking social experiment," Yarbrough replied, "This happened 10 years ago. Obviously it didn't break our Marine Corps."

A spokesman at the Marine Corps headquarters stood behind Yarbrough. "Although social media management policies vary between commands, much of the dialogue on this post shows the command responding directly to statements that are not in line with Marine Corps values or current policy," Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Marine Corps Times via email.

Butterfield endorsed replying to the comments rather than deleting them, saying, "Muting or deleting negative comments allows certain thought processes to go unchallenged. Social media is a two-way communication tool that allows us to engage multiple audiences directly, and sometimes that means disagreeing with members of an audience."

The post has received more than 3,000 comments, 2,700 shares, and 6,400 reactions.

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