Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a respected, eighteen year F-15 pilot and winner of nine air medals including one for heroism was one of two pilots first called upon to secure the skies above New York on 9-11. When he was confronted by a commander about his sexuality, rather than lie, he told the truth. The result? He was kicked out of the military just two years shy of earning his retirement.

This is in the wake of recent investigative news reports warning that our strained military is returning soldiers with known mental health and chemical dependency problems to combat zones.

So, if you are a service man or woman with a documented drug problem or you are mentally unstable, you will be placed in situations affecting the safety of your unit. If you are gay or bisexual, you’re such a threat to the safety of your unit, you will be discharged at the cost of approximately $20,000. We’ll add this cost to the 190 million dollars the Government Accountability Office estimates American taxpayers have spent so far to remove people like you since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was implemented by our Congress in 1994. You will be discharged even if you have “mission critical,” training as a combat engineer, pilot or Arabic speaking linguist! You will be added to the growing list of 13,000 service men and women whose careers have been destroyed not because of dereliction of duty or cowardice, but because of the way you are oriented sexually. Now if you hide or lie about your sexuality, you can serve. If you tell the truth, you forfeit your career. Sound fair?

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and woman must adhere to the same code of conduct as it relates to sexual ethics and harassment as heterosexual personnel. They are professional soldiers who desire to get along with and earn the respect of members of their unit. Recent surveys of service men and women indicate that 73% are comfortable being around gays and lesbians. One in four soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan already know of someone in their unit who is gay. The policy is not enforced uniformly because many straight service men and women don’t report their suspicions to their commanding officers because they respect the commitment, hard work, and courage demonstrated by those they know or suspect are gay. Heck, they even are friends with some of them!

The problem is, if someone in the service is homophobic or has an axe to grind, he or she can backstab or blackmail someone who is gay because there is a policy which places gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and women in a very vulnerable, inhospitable position. This is, unfortunately, what happened to Fehrenbach.

The DODT policy is symptomatic of the pervasive heterosexism that still exists in America. It is rooted in the belief held by some people that heterosexuals are somehow superior to homosexuals. If you want to be married legally, go for it! You just need to be straight. If you want to adopt, despite the fact there are 500,000 children in the child welfare system waiting to be adopted, you have to be heterosexual. If you want to serve your country in the military, great, just be sure you are heterosexual. If you want to work without fear of losing your job or unfair treatment in the workplace, as long as you are heterosexual or you don’t live in one of 29 states where you can legally lose your job because of your sexual orientation, you can feel secure in your job.

Or, you can simply lie about your sexuality.

For a growing number of heterosexual and GLBT Americans, this is unacceptable. That is why we all need to call and write letters like this one to our town newspapers. We need to take five minutes and send a quick letter to those representing us in Congress to pass the (ENDA) Employment Non-Discrimination Act HR 3017 and the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA), which ends DADT. Excluding GLBT Americans from basic civil and employment non-discrimination policies is unfair, unjust, and simply un-American. These two major pieces of legislation, once passed will provide a lot of momentum for other rights we all deserve such as legally recognized marriage and adoption rights.

Also, please let me encourage everyone who reads this to go to: Preserve gay marriage in Maine. to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington

You can easily donate money on-line to support these campaigns. Also check out:

Human Rights Campaign @
Service Members Legal Defense Fund @
Equality Across America

This is a critical time for the GLBT community. We have the most supportive Congress and President that we are likely to see in a very long time. Now is the time for all of us to become activists. Donate, write, get involved. I have sent a version of the above letter to ten different news outlets. It took me just over an hour to do so. Imagine if everyone at Real Jock did the same!

Let me know what you think!