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  INDEPENDENCE DAY

Born On The 4th Of July: 12 American LGBT War Heroes

(Female members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a.k.a WASPs)

Cpls. Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner

Though hardly the first people booted from the military for being gay, Clackum and Garner, U.S. Air Force reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s, were the first to successfully challenge their discharge.

When the two women were suspected of being lesbians, the Office of Special Investigations essentially entrapped the pair, giving the Air Force cause to issue dishonorable discharges to both in 1952. But they refused to accept the discharges and demanded their case be brought to a courtmartial. Eight years later, the pair won their suit: the courts vacated the discharge and awarded them back pay.

Recounting the Air Force’s account of its investigation, the court opinion’s read in part:

“One’s reaction to the foregoing narrative is ‘What’s going on here?’”

“…The so-called ‘hearing’ before the Air Force Discharge Board was not a hearing at all, in the usual sense of that word. It was a meaningless formality, to comply with the regulations. The ‘evidence’ upon which the case was going to be decided, and obviously was decided, was not present at the hearing, unless the undisclosed dossier which contained it was in the drawer of the table at which the Board sat. The appellant and her counsel were futilely tilting at shadows. However vulnerable the secret evidence may have been, there was no possible way to attack it.”

While the ruling turned on the fact that there wasn’t enough evidence to show the women were lesbians—rather than that there was nothing wrong with it if they were—it was the first time the military was brought to task for its arbitrary and clandestine attacks on gay service members.


  • 13 Comments
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      It is a shame that Victor Fehrenbach and Dan Choi are included in this group of great Americans. Both are huge attention seekers and Fehrrenbach is pretty much a slut.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 2:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Justin
      Justin

      Kirsten Gillibrand is D-NY not D-NH. As she is my Senator, I claim her proudly.

      To miagoodguy (above), both of those “attention seekers” put a face on TV calling out the evils of DADT. Opportunistic or not, they both fought for the change as well as for our country. Demeaning their contribution doesn’t serve anyone.

      Also, enough with the slut-shaming. He’s a free, gay man who has a constitutional right to be a slut if he wants to be.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      and I have the right to call a spade a spade.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 11:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mjw51295
      mjw51295

      I live close to the University of Notre Dame. There is a statue of Dr. Dooley close to the famous grotto with a letter he wrote from Indochina telling the president of the universtiy how in times of discouragaement he remembered the grotto and drew strength. The current catholic wing nuts wanted to remove the statue because he was gay. But the university refused to remove it. There is hope.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @miagoodguy: Do I have freedom of expression, like if I point out you are a vapid plebeian with the opinion worth of a pubic louse?

      Jul 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • royster
      royster

      @2eo: what ^they^ said, MiaGoodGuy (and that name belies your hatorade). If assuming someone who owns his sexuality and is sexually active is a “pretty much a slut”, we can also assume someone who enjoys belittling his other accomplishments by pointing it “pretty much is jealous because he doesn’t get any.”

      Jul 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James Darby
      James Darby

      I;ve been involved with GITM (Gays in the Military) for 25 years.
      All of these 13 people have been my role models and personal heroes. Over the years I I have met most of them. Their personal stories and sacrifices have
      been instrumental in overturning DADT. This couintry and all of us
      owe them a huge debt of gratitude. We should continue to honor them,
      not denigrate them.

      I would like to offer the names of a few more heroes for your next
      list. Sgt. Miriam Ben-Shalom, Sgt. Perry Watkins, Sgt Jose Zuniga,
      Cliff Arnesen and Chuck Scchoen

      Jim Darby

      Jul 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      Being a slut doesn’t make you a hero, but it doesn’t disqualify you either.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      I get more than the average gay guy. I just don’t go randomly having sex with every tom, dick, and harry. my partner is enough sexually for me. I’ll take being called a vapid plebian as a badge of honor knowing that I don’t fall at the feet of “hot” gay men and say that they are wonderful human beings when they are far from it.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • manjoguy
      manjoguy

      An excellent, inspiring article. Thank you Queerty for publishing it. I honor the service and sacrifice of all Americans in the military!

      Jul 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mlbumiller
      mlbumiller

      @miagoodguy: so u u know from personal experience he is a slut? must make u a whore.

      Jul 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • riz
      riz

      Look I’m no hero, but I served and did my duty which was to uphold and defend the United States Constitution. Be aware that includes the right to freedom of speech and expression. I don’t have to agree with someone to try and understand their point of view. Nonetheless, I served during the late sixties and early seventies and was discharged (honorably due to an excellent career) for being gay. It was really difficult to deal with at that time…thank goodness we have made much progress and with a little understanding(of each other) we can continue to do so. Happy Fourth weekend everyone and bring our sons and daughters home from Afghanistan now.

      Jul 5, 2013 at 10:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DerekR
      DerekR

      @mlbumiller: dude if you have a “partner” then I am Tom Cruise. Your bullshit would be more believable if you FIRST deleted you Match.com profile.

      BUSTED you f*cking DOUCHE

      Jul 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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