All About Trey

Life, Travel, Adventure

Orlando (Part 2)

So I guess it's fitting that I'm writing about this on Veteran's Day.

In March, I applied for a job at AFRICOM in Stuttgart Germany.  I've been thinking about changing jobs and it sounded interesting and moving back to Europe seemed like a real interesting opportunity.  So I applied and I got an interview.  It went well and then I thought, wait, what happens if I really get the job.  Would John leave his job?  Could he find a job in Stuttgart?  They *must* do patent work in Germany.  His firm has an office in Brussels.  How would all of this work.  We had several conversations, all of them speculative since I didn't have the job yet, but we weren't sure how this would work out.  And then I started thinking of the logistics of it all.  Even if we were married, would even be allowed to come with me?  DOMA would prevent him from getting spousal status.  Could he even get into the country?  Or get a work visa?  Would Germany recognize our marriage even if the U.S. didn't?  Could he even get access to the base to pick me up from work? Or use the hospital?

So many questions.  So while DADT was repealed, gay and lesbian service members (and service civilians) don't have equal rights and access to a whole host of rights and services because of DOMA.   A friend of mine asked if I was interested in joining the board of the Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) who had been one of the primary drivers for the repeal of DADT.  I had originally said no, but John had recommended I do it and after the AFRICOM flailex (though I was never offered the job), I knew I wanted to help get marriage benefits for gay and lesbian service members.  If you are willing to put your life on the line for this country, then you deserve the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

So the primary reason I went to Orlando was to attend the OutServe-SLDN International Leadership Conference and the OS-SLDN board meeting.  Over the summer, SLDN merged with OutServe, the active duty GLBT organization that has something like 6000 members.  Needless to say that with John's death, I was sort of pre-occupied with other things.  So this was my first opportunity to participate in the organization and attend the board meeting.

The conference was interesting and I learned a whole bunch of stuff.  But it was the board meeting that was interesting.  The repeal of DADT meant that SLDN's primary mission had been achieved and they were now focused on getting marriage benefits for G&L service members.  However, while DADT allowed gays and lesbians to serve, it didn't allow transgender persons to serve openly.  In addition to the merge, OS-SLDN also hired a new executive director.  A West Point graduate who had served in Iraq.  Who is a transgender woman.  She is still married to her West Point graduate wife and they have three children.

Now I'll be honest and say that at first I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole transgender issue.  On the gay and lesbian issue, I was always, if the person can shoot the enemy, can fly a plane, can drive a ship, if they can diffuse the bomb, fundamentally if they can do the job.  Then does it matter if they are gay or lesbian or black or white or green or young or old or whatever?  And I guess to be honest, if that argument is correct.  And I believe it is.  Then does it matter if the person is transgender?  The answer is no, not really.

I'll also say that I can't imagine what it's like to go through what they go through everyday.  The courage and integrity it must take to live their life they way they want to.  To say no to the easy but wrong answer, but yes to the hard but right answer.

And aren't those the exact attributes you want to a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine?