Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Victory day for LGBT navy personnel in US
Today September 20 2011 marks a big - and long-overdue step - in the struggle for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans rights. The US military's anti-gay “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy is repealed today.
Under the 1993 law that bans gay and lesbian personnel from serving openly,14,000 people were discharged - distressed. Many careers were ruined.
Although it's a victory, it's not a complete one. American Veterans for Equal Rights
will still be fighting for the rights of transgender service members. National AVER President Danny Ingram, said
“'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' had nothing to do with transgender issues, so the repeal doesn't do anything for it.“Being transgender is considered a mental illness. Until that changes, the military will not accept or allow transgender people to serve openly.”
The Pink Paper reports one poignant and personal story that shows the impact the changes will have. 89 year old World War II veteran, Melvin Dwork 'spent decades fighting his discharge status, which involved filing countless requests with the Navy, travelling to Washington, lobbying lawmakers and hiring a law firm to help him.
'As a result of his discharge, he was denied GI benefits to continue his studies as a young man and was denied medical care in his later years, resulting in him being unable to afford a hearing aid.
'His discharge papers [have been] changed from “undesirable” to “honourable”, seventy years after he was expelled from the navy for being gay. [He] was notified last month that he would now be eligible for benefits he had previously been denied, including medical care and a military burial.
'The move is thought to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a WWII veteran, since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'