The death of astronaut Sally Ride this week and the revelation that she was in a long-term lesbian relationship have allies, including her sister, highlighting the discrimination that same-sex couples face, and prompting discussion about what it’s like to be gay in the space program.
Bear Ride, herself a lesbian, appeared on Current TV’s The Young Turks With Cenk Uygur Tuesday to note how the Defense of Marriage Act denies benefits to gay couples. She added that Ride and her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, had a California domestic partnership and “were in something of a privileged position” when it came to taking care of each other legally. “They had the resources to hire attorneys and do all the stuff that one would not normally have to do if one was heterosexually married,” Bear Ride said.
She also observed that politicians who oppose marriage equality, such as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, are nonetheless praising her sister. “That’s just something that the politicians really need to meditate on,” she said. “They can’t have it both ways.”
Bear Ride has also had a high-profile career, being a a Presbyterian minister. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has a tribute to the Ride sisters.
Meanwhile, website Live Science carries an article about the difficulty of being out within NASA. Michael Cassutt, an author and expert on the space program, tells reporter Natalie Wolchover that until recently, coming out as gay would have been “a career-wrecker” for astronauts. Read more here.