Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: A soldier's story
by John Lendman
2008-08-13

This article shared 5580 times since Wed Aug 13, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., is known as the 'Crossroads of the Marine Corps.' While touting its place on the frontline of innovation, Quantico is where Marines train to excel in their ranks.

For Chicago native Marquell Smith, Quantico was more than a crossroads to his exemplary military career; it was a calling—a calling to serve his country, something he could earn that no one could take away from him.

By the winter of 2005, as sergeant in administrative personnel, Smith handled quality-of-life services for incoming active-duty Marines—from healthcare benefits to travel arrangements. Smith's outstanding record, he said, lead him on the path to becoming an officer.

After seeking medical advice in confidence from his drill sergeant during an HIV-exposure scare, Smith said his career became scrutinized by rumors and hearsay. Subsequently, in November 2005, Smith found himself implicated under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' ( DADT ) policy. His promotion never came.

'Giving up my leadership in the Marine Corps was one of the most disappointing things to ever happen to me,' Smith said. 'I made so many sacrifices for the Marines; I went above and beyond the call of duty on many occasions. … I felt that the Marine Corps failed me and I also felt my leadership failed me.' The weeks and months that followed were especially difficult, Smith recalled.

Since the subject matter was so sensitive, Smith was told he couldn't discuss the situation with any of his colleagues and, in turn, his commanding of- ficer told his colleagues not to talk to Smith, either. He was not at liberty to seek support from people he had been working side-by-side for years. 'It was emotionally draining. … You're walking around wondering why they won't talk to you,' Smith said. 'I was a sergeant that was told to come into work and basically do nothing but sit at a desk; I was treated like a prisoner.' Smith's defining moment came when the Marine Corps offered him an honorable discharge if he chose not to fight his case, he said. 'I take great pride in when I made the decision to fight,' Smith said. 'I made this decision not on the basis of myself, but for every gay and lesbian service member that I knew that was still in the uniform. So I lost my career to a discharge.'

Testimonies like Smith's were shared when the validity of the DADT military policy was challenged during July 23 congressional hearings by the House Military Personnel Subcommittee. Discharged service members; decorated veterans; and Democratic and Republican congressional leaders spoke out in support of repealing DADT. In addition, numerous gay and lesbian civil-rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) , Servicemembers Legal Defense Network ( SLDN ) the Log Cabin Republicans and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, raised awareness of the issue leading up to the hearings. HRC Director of Public Affairs Christopher Johnson attended the highly publicized hearings and said he remembers large diverse crowds of people lining up around the hall to witness the testimonies. He said it was interesting to hear the stories told by service members who dedicated their lives to serving their country only to be kicked out over a policy that doesn't help the country's military readiness at all. 'If there was headway made, it was all about raising awareness and putting actual face to the issue,' Johnson said. 'You really can't underestimate the value of people going before congress to tell their personal stories.' Johnson said he agreed with California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher's statement saying that DADT is one of the last civil-rights issues facing gays and lesbians today.

'If they are putting their lives on the line for our country, they should not live in fear of losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation,' Johnson said. An outspoken presence at the hearings could be found across party lines as well, said Log Cabin Republicans Communications Director Scott Tucker. Citing the recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showing support for the repeal of DADT among Republicans, doubling from 32 percent to 64 percent in the last 15 years, Tucker said it is no longer a partisan issue.

'It is important for Americans to know how this policy is harming our nation during a time of war when our military is already stretched too thin,' Tucker said. 'It's certainly going to take a continuing of pressuring on Congress to talk with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.' After more than six years of service, Smith still says, 'once a Marine, always a Marine.' While currently working with SLDN and his attorney to upgrade his discharge to an honorable status, the now 27-year-old Andersonville resident says he has a great civilian career. Today, Smith looks at his discharge as a blessing in disguise, having fought for what he believes in. 'They can strip me of my entire career, they could have everything, but they will never have my dignity,' Smith said. 'I left [ the Marines ] thinking I made a mark, not just for myself but for others. I truly am a martyr for the cause.' More than 12,000 service members have been discharged since the DADT policy has been in place. SLDN reports that two service members a day are discharged under DADT and offers support and services such as legal advice to active duty gay and lesbian service members. Find out more about SLdn at www.sldn.org


This article shared 5580 times since Wed Aug 13, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL Chuck Schumer, anti-marriage bill, drag event back on, military doctor 2024-02-23
- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)—and, as a result, several LGBTQ+-advocacy organizations dropped their opposition to it, The Hill ...


Gay News

Col. Jennifer Pritzker comments on military museum move 2024-02-13
- Local transgender philanthropist Col. Jennifer Pritzker commented to Windy City Times about the impending move of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML), which she founded in 2003, to Wisconsin. "At the end of the day, ...


Gay News

Pritzker Military Library to close in July, move to Wisconsin 2024-02-08
- On Feb. 7, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library announced that it is closing its downtown Chicago location on July 27 and moving to an archives center in Wisconsin later this year, according to The Chicago ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Paris Johnson 2023-12-29
- Paris Johnson, 29, of Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 28. He would have celebrated his 30th birthday Dec. 20. Born into a military family in Sacramento, California, Paris moved often in his youth, ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Women's college, banned books, military initiative, Oregon 2023-12-29
- After backlash regarding a decision to update its anti-discrimination policy and open enrollment to some transgender applicants, a Catholic women's college in Indiana will return to its previous admission policy, per The National Catholic Reporter. In ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Music awards, military film, Tom of Finland, Yo-Yo Ma, 'Harley Quinn' 2023-11-17
Video below - Brothers Osborne—a duo that includes gay brother TJ Osborne—won Vocal Duo of the Year for the sixth time at the recent CMA Awards, per a media release. Backstage, TJ told reporters, "I did not expect us ...


Gay News

AVER celebrates LGBTQ+ veterans at annual Veterans Day dinner 2023-11-12
- Writer and historian Owen Keehnen was keynote speaker at the the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) Chicago Chapter's 32nd annual LGBTQ Veterans Day Banquet held on Veterans Day at Ann Sather restaurant on Belmont. Keehnen ...


Gay News

South Korean court upholds military 'sodomy law' 2023-10-28
- For the fourth time, South Korea's constitutional court has upheld two anti-LGBTQ+ laws—including the country's notorious military "sodomy law," The Guardian reported. By a vote of five to four, the court confirmed the constitutionality of ar ...


Gay News

WORLD Couple's win, attack in Beirut, German military, gay ski week 2023-09-08
- In Strasbourg, France, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bulgaria violated the rights of a same-sex couple (Darina Koilova and Lili Babulkova) by not recognizing their marriage abroad, RFE/RL reported. Rights groups lauded the ...


Gay News

'We've had a ball': Prominent activists Jim Darby and Patrick Bova celebrate 60th anniversary 2023-09-07
- One of the first couples to be legally married in Illinois is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Jim Darby and Patrick Bova fell in love decades before they became the lead plaintiffs in Lambda Legal's ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Military drama, Janelle Monae, Conan Gray, Dylan Mulvaney, Whoopi 2023-08-31
- The LGBTQ+ military drama Eismayer (from Dark Star Pictures and Golden Girls Film) will be out in theaters on Oct. 6, and on DVD and Digital on Oct. 10, per a press release. The plot is ...


Gay News

FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act would undercut equality, Modern Military Assoc of America comments 2023-07-14
--From a press release - Washington D.C. - Anti-equality House members are using the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act to pass dangerous amendments targeting healthcare, gender-affirming care, education, and LGBTQ+ friendly services and resources. The ...


Gay News

WORLD Pride celebrations, puberty blockers, British military, killer sentenced 2023-06-16
- Gay Pride Buenos Aires is slated to take place Oct. 27-Nov. 4, according to GayTravel4U.com. More than 30 organizations and groups host activities that will begin a week before the parade (which is on Nov. 4). ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT War in the 21st Century: mercenaries, private military companies, private armies 2023-05-20
- In 2022, $407 billion of the Pentagon budget—representing half of that year's funding —were obligated to private contractors, of which a significant number were Private Military Companies (PMCs) involved in ...


Gay News

Modern Military Association of America appoints interim Executive Director 2023-05-18
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, (May 17, 2023) — LGBTQ+ military nonprofit Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) announced today that nonprofit management expert Rachel Branaman, will step into the role of interim executive ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.