When “Steve Jones” joined the Marines, he listed his boyfriend as his next of kin to receive any pay and benefits should Jones die in the line of duty. The day after his superiors asked him why he listed a man instead of a family member as his next of kin, Jones’ entire unit knew the name, sexual orientation and beneficiary status of his boyfriend.
After that, Jones started receiving disapproving stares from fellow service members. He’d overhear them calling him him a “freaking disgusting” “faggot” and imply that they’d slit his throat and not help him if he found himself in trouble in Afghanistan.
What’s worse is that Jones’ story may be more common than even LGBT military organizations would like to admit.
It’s unreasonable to think that homophobic military culture would magically accept LGBs overnight with DADT’s repeal. But while The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Outserve (two non-military LGBT organizations that helped push for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”) say that such incidents as Jones’ are very rare and have been efficiently handled by the chain of command, LGBT Weekly wonders whether those two organizations and the military have downplayed such incidents to make the repeal seem as positive and successful as possible.
LGBT Weekly cites the miltary’s mishandling of gay-bashing cases such as the beating death of Barry Winchell and the silence surrounding the murder of gay Navy service member August Provost and asks, “How much faith do you put in a military system that has systematically failed to find the answers in the past, with often tragic results?”
Despite the SLDN’s and Outserve’s claims, LGBT Weekly says that gay military members continue to report troubling claims of anti-gay military harassment online. They also say that the military lacks any official support network for gay partners, denying access to groups and services afforded the partners and family members of deployed non-gay service members.
Though it’s important to make sure that transgender people can serve our country honorably, it’s also important that the current LGBs now protected by the DADT repeal have access to the same protections and benefits that their straight counterparts get.