ACLU-WA Press Conference Announcing Final Settlement of Lawsuit Challenging Her Dismissal Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
“Today this part of my mission is complete.”
Today I’m announcing the final settlement to a lawsuit and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. When this all started, almost seven years ago, I was devastated. I felt that I had lost my purpose and my mission. I had trained over half of my life to be ready when my country and my military family needed me. I sought the advice of Col. Grethe Cammermeyer. She looked me square in the eye and said, “Major, your mission has changed.”
It has been my honor to accept that mission for the past 7 years—to fight, not only for myself, but also for those members of my extended military family who could not speak out for themselves.
Today, this part of my mission is complete. It has been my honor to fight for the freedom of all to serve and to have been a part of such a momentous court battle with the ACLU and finally the long-awaited repeal of DADT.
My partner, Laurie, and I have decided that we’re ready for our family to move forward. I am currently enrolled in a doctorate program and this summer I will also begin co-authoring a couple of nursing textbooks with another hero of mine, Anna Curran.
I will continue to serve my military family at my job with the Spokane VA hospital. I will also continue to advocate for my fellow gay and lesbian service members as we move forward toward full repeal and open service.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the support I have received during this fight. Thank you to my partner, Laurie and her children (Dan, Abby and Stacer); my wonderful parents, my big brother and sister and their families – my nieces Anikka and Turi are here; my amazing friends (many who are here today – Carla, Kary and Jen), and especially my fellow service members.
To my 446th AES family – I will never forget your selflessness, kind words and brave support over all of these difficult years. I have missed you all tremendously.
I am always with you in spirit. You hold a very special place in my heart. Continue to take care of each other and stay safe.
As I look back, I see that my two-week trial in September turned out to be one of the most memorable and humbling experiences of my life. Day after day, members of my unit entered the courtroom and testified that not only had MY presence in the unit not been negative, but that the presence of other gay members they had served with throughout their careers had not affected unit cohesion and morale in a negative way either. The whole two weeks were so overwhelmingly positive that my family and I talk about what a wonderful experience it was to this day.
I also had the opportunity to attend the signing of the bill repealing DADT in Washington, DC in December. I cannot begin to tell you what an overwhelming and awe- inspiring experience that was. I stood among many historical giants in the decades-long battle for LBGT equality. As I waited in line outside, I was amazed at the parade of history that was walking by me. Then I realized I was standing in that line too! And I was standing there with Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Commander Zoe Dunning (two other pivotal women in this repeal). What a great day – not just gay rights, but for human rights.
Last but definitely not least. I owe everything to these folks right here. Over 14,000 service members have been discharged because of DADT. I was one of the fortunate few who had a legal team willing to step up and fight. Thank you to the ACLU, my attorneys Jim Lobsenz, Sarah Dunne, Aaron Caplan and Sher Kung – for believing in me and the cause. We would not be here today and repeal would not have been possible without you.
There are still many missions to take on. I will continue to speak out in support of full equality – whether it is in the civilian or military world.