Derek grew up in Missouri and from a young age, knew who he was. Having grown up knowing one uncle who was gay and another who was transgender, he was no stranger to living openly. But being from That escape took him to the US Air Force. He left Missouri and was stationed in intelligence at Denver’s Buckley Air Force Base. Then about a year ago, he met his boyfriend David and has since been wrestling with his integrity.
Earlier this year, in considering his relationship, Derek spoke with the ADC (Area Defense Council – the defense attorney for the Air Force) about his position. He also spoke with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), who advised him exactly what would happen should he come out and tell his superiors who he is.
Then 3 weeks ago, in the interest of opening his superior’s eyes to his situation and the losses the military is facing, he wrote a letter to his Sargent explaining his position and the discharge proceedings began. He had no idea when he wrote that letter, that 3 weeks later, US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips would order that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy be halted immediately.
Today, the Pentagon ordered recruitment offices to begin enlisting openly gay recruits and Derek received a call from the ADC telling him that all discharges had been ended – he still had a job. Of course, he’s been advised that this all could be only for now, but Derek has hope that this will all be over soon.
Unfortunately though, the story of Derek and his boyfriend won’t end with the repeal of DADT. It seems that even with the repeal, there are still many policies in place which would stop Derek from having full equality as a person defending this country. He still would not be able to list David as his next of kin, or live with him on base. Because of the discriminations outlined in the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the only thing a repeal of DADT accomplishes is the end of employment discrimination for our servicemembers.
Hopefully, as a country founded on the idea that all men are created equal, we will find a way to truly honor those who fight and die defending those very tenets. Until then, it’s one step at a time as we continue the fight for our freedoms.
As Derek’s case is still not quite resolved, we’ve covered his face and removed his last name from the posting per his request.