Discharged Marine Walker Burttschell Accepts Obama’s Handshake, And (An Unspoken) Apology

For every Dan Choi and Victor Fehrenbach, there’s a Walker Burttschell: discharged in 2003 for being gay, but without the national media attention that can come with it. (Indeed, the former Marine’s name appears in Queerty‘s archives only because he signed his name to the “Fuck You HRC” letter.) Burttschell was told he was no longer qualified to serve his country after a comrade “hacked into my email and threatened to out me to my commander,” he says, which sent him into a depression that ended up making things worse: “I panicked and became suicidal and was eventually hospitalized. I confided in my psychiatrist and the doctor outed me to my commander.” Lord. After being discharged, Burttschell became HRC’s South Florida field organizer in the fight against DADT, and we all know how that went. But on Wednesday, Burttschell was among the former servicemembers the White House wanted on hand when Obama issued the most awkward of apologies to gay heroes … by signing a bill (sort of) repealing the law.

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  • Adam

    I rarely post comments on here as i rarely read this site, and i’m reminded again why. Can you guys be a little more f’ing positive please. There’s enough negativity in the world without the gay media adding more on top of good news. “Obama issued the most awkward of apologies to gay heroes … by signing a bill (sort of) repealing the law.” Why is this back-handed bitchiness necessary in nearly every article, your offices need a morale boost. Merry Xmas!

  • Brandon

    wishes Queerty would pull its head out of its ass

  • ewe

    @Adam: um because gay oppression is alive and well and all we are getting is that Obama is evolving.

  • ewe

    @Brandon: If by ass you mean the body politic, well you gotta be in it to win it. Gee i am sure Obama and others feel the exact same way when it comes to winning. Step aside faggot, there is an election looming.

  • Adam

    @Ewe: No sh*t but could we just enjoy something for a few day, maybe even til after the holidays, before the gripefest begins, please! As much as these guys bitch about the little twits on the a-list, they seem just as bitchy and bitter, just with college degrees

  • OrchidIslander

    @ewe: “….. and all we are getting is that Obama is evolving.”

    Speaking only for me – I find Obama’s “evolving” – to be more substantive, positive and result oriented than I do the constant gay snark that doesn’t – realistically or honestly – acknowledge or appreciate any progress made at all.

    At least Obama’s “evolving” is acknowledged, too bad that adjective is not easily applied to some members of our own team……

  • ewe

    @Adam: Can’t you do two things at the same time? Why is talking about our equality a gripefest to you?

  • ewe

    @OrchidIslander You could at least put Barney Frank in your gratitude column. To name just one more.

  • Daez

    To bad this dude wasn’t a publicity whore prone to stunts like some fellow DADT “activists.” His poise and demeanor would have provided a lot more to the cause.

  • Daez

    @ewe: We all get it, you absolutely hate Obama and it troubles you greatly that he has done more for equality than any President ever. It also troubles you that he has done more for equality than you.

    It also bothers you that no one knows how to play the game as well as President Obama, and that Obama realizes that timing is definitely part of the game. Make no doubt about it, if it wasn’t for the Republicans wanting to go home for Christmas we would have seen weeks of filibuster on this issue and criticism by the American people for wasting time on DADT when many other things needed accomplished. At the end of the term, this was one of the most successful seasons Congress has had, not just for gay rights, but in general and it was because of the leadership of the man you hate so much just because he is black and not Hilary.

  • Adam

    Really Ewe, I have a feeling you are one of the writers i was bitching about. Anyhow, either way this is about stupid, it’s xmas eve and i have cheese balls to make and gifts to wrap. Have a happy holiday and enjoy the victories we have made for just a minute. Only better things are to come!

  • Obama DID say DADT would happen on his watch... (John From England)


    Spot on.

    It’s about time people realised the lame duck session was all about strategy.

    It’s all politics man. Gays are so dumb sometimes.

  • Thomas Marx

    I like Queerty precisely because it is bitchy and honest.

    To me, President Obama’s promise to be a “fierce advocate” was as big a lie as the “Mission Accomplished” banner in front of which President Bush spoke. He has done almost nothing to accomplish equality, his government has fought every court case seeking to overturn anti-gay laws, and at this point, his greatest accomplishment is creating a health bill that is deeply flawed. He has kept most of President Bush’s worst policies in place. He did nothing to push the repeal of DADT, he has never spoken out against campaigns to prevent gay couples from marrying, and I will not be voting for him again. I didn’t vote in the 2004 election, and I will not vote in the 2012 election unless there is a different Democratic candidate running for office.

    As for those who want to complain about Queerty: I used to read many more sites than just Queerty, Joe My God and Towleroad. For various reasons, I’ve dropped the others. Some only printed story after story of injustice and murder, and while I know fully well what I face as a gay man in Midwest America, I don’t need the constant reminders. Some concentrated on subjects that didn’t interest me or spoke in voices that I either didn’t agree with or didn’t learn from.

    Even on Queerty, Joe My God and Towleroad, I pick and choose what I read. I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste one more second of my life listening to the latest bullshit from Ann Coulter, a woman who will say anything and do anything to sell more books and inflate her ego.

    If you do not like the anti-Obama bias of Queerty, then may I suggest you either stop visiting the site or avoid any items that name check the President? With all due respect, you want to see President Obama’s presidency as a triumph of gay empowerment and equality. That is your opinion, and you are correct to believe that. Others, like me, believe that President Obama was a huge disappointment who betrayed the people that voted for him. That is my opinion, and I am correct to believe it.

    Instead of trying to change the voice of this site – good luck with that one – why not find the sites that build you up and reinforce your beliefs. Life is too short to constantly piss against the wind, especially when you know where it’s going to end up.

  • Daez

    @Thomas Marx:

    I agree, I like QT because people aren’t afraid to house their honest opinion.

    How can you even begin to believe that Obama has done nothing. I do agree that the Justice Department was out of line with the words that they used, but haven’t you learned anything from the Iowa justices being attacked. People DO NOT like it when the courts decide the tone of the country. They are much more willing to accept what the Congress decides.

    What policies of GW did he keep in place exactly? Sure, he kept an ongoing conflict with Afghanistan, but I don’t see how you can just cut and run in Afghanistan. He ended the Iraqi war conflict.

    Please point out the deep flaws in the health care bill. I can assume you have read the whole thing, completely understand it and can put it in terms even the lay person can understand. I mean, if you haven’t you would be in no position to believe the Republican claim that it is “deeply flawed” now would you?

    He did nothing to push the repeal of DADT? You mean nothing short of personally calling Senators and vocally campaigning against DADT since before he was even elected? Yup, that is most definitely nothing (SARCASM).

    So, you are willing to throw away your vote because you don’t want to vote for a President that actually believes in your rights. You would much rather hand the election to Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney because they are such leading gay rights activists (OH WAIT). Have you never heard that if you didn’t vote (which basically means you thought fighting for your own rights wasn’t as important as jacking off that day since it takes about the same amount of time) then you can’t bitch about the outcome. Please explain to me how come you couldn’t get off your ass to go vote in a very turbulent time for gay rights (GW basically won in 2004 based on a campaign of gay hatred) but you feel you have the right to criticize Obama.

    Please tell me what state you are from. PLEASE! You say, Midwest America and then you say you didn’t bother to vote in 2004. Are you seriously unaware that 2004 was the year that the vast majority of Midwest States passed antigay marriage amendments. You are basically saying you didn’t bother to vote for your own freedom to marry, but Obama should bow down and kiss your ass anyways.

    When you have the balls to get off your ass and do something as simple as vote for a cause you believe in you have every right to bitch about Obama not doing enough. Until then, you really need to shut up because you just make gays and lesbians everywhere look truly bad.

  • ewe

    @Adam: you have a nice holiday too. I mean really. Is that all you need me to say. fine. enjoy yourself. I do hope you can bask in bliss and serenity.

  • ewe

    @Daez: you have some wierd thing about insisting i hate Obama. I don’t know him personally therefore i can’t possibly have those feelings. Your agenda is so bizarre. By the way, i am genuinely happy that your parents love you. I never would try to belittle that.

  • ewe

    @Adam: I have nothing to do with Queerty other than commenting. I do respect this blog though because my experience is that it is one that does not censor comments.

  • jason

    Obama only signed DADT repeal because we in the GLBT community threatened to vote for the Republican Party. That’s the only reason. If we had sat on our haunches and meekly accepted the initial failure of repeal to pass through the senate, DADT would still be on the books today.

    WE are the ones who repealed DADT. Not the Democrasts, not Obama, but WE.

  • Thomas Marx


    First off, my real name is Tommy Marx. I don’t hide behind bullshit IDs or internet anonymity.

    I got off my ass. I’ve written to the PR Director of the Wichita Kansas school system to discuss the school system’s policies on bullying, especially when it comes to children questioning their gender or sexual preference. She is on Christmas vacation now, but I will be setting up a meeting to talk to her personally in January, and I will be following up.

    I wrote a public email to my Senator (you can view it at if you want to) that I have also submitted to several Kansas newspapers. If it is not published by at least one, I will keep submitting it to anyone that will listen until it is published.

    I got my employer to change their application to include gay and lesbian people on their notice of Equal Opportunity Employment.

    In 2011, I will be devoting at least 12 hours a month to making sure gay and lesbian children know that being different does not in any way make them lesser. While I would like to volunteer for the public school system, I imagine that won’t be possible, so I will volunteer with a charitable organization that helps gay and lesbian children.

    What exactly have you done lately?

    You’re so eager to believe Obama is your savior that you ignore he’s kept all of Bush’s anti-privacy and torture policies in effect. Oh, but that doesn’t matter because he hired a lesbian to head the EOC. Please send me a link – I can be reached at [email protected] – informing me of all these calls President Obama made. I am the last person that wants to be unchallenged. If I am wrong, I am happy to learn that I am wrong.

    You judge me so quickly, so easily, as if I was personally attacking you. I was very reasonable. If you do not like Queerty’s opinions regarding our current President, then avoid reading Queerty articles regarding our current President.

    And may I ask:

    What the fuck have you done to protect our children? What one single fucking thing have you done to protect our children?

    I WILL NOT vote for someone who is not doing the job he is paid for. It is as simple as that. I do not vote for someone who is not doing his job.

    He had the power to stop ANYONE from being kicked out of the military for being gay or lesbian, and he refused to do so. He has fought against marriage equality. What message is he sending to our children? “I want you to have equal rights but I will fight that every chance I get.”

    What the fuck have you done for our children besides bitch and moan because someone doesn’t worship at the altar of Obama?

  • PatrickB

    @Thomas Marx: Not voting, if you live in a contested state, is, from an arithmetic standpoint, the same as voting for Palin and company. If you live in Kansas, your vote for president in the general election is probably going to be symbolic, but maybe not if you live in New Hampshire.

    Do you really think that the Republican candidate for president will continue _fewer_ of Bush’s policies? Or do _more_ to protect gay kids?

  • Thomas Marx

    @PatrickB: I don’t think the Republican candidate for president will continue fewer of Bush’s policies. I would prefer a Democratic candidate that wouldn’t.

    You are correct in that not voting only helps the enemy. But voting for President Obama also helps the enemy. If Bush had not immediately proceeded him, I would call him the worst President we have ever had.

    And as a matter of conscience, I will not vote for someone who is bad for our country. So far the ONLY thing he has done is push through a health care bill that requires everyone to buy health insurance. That’s not a presidency, that’s a disgrace.

  • PatrickB

    @Thomas Marx: Clearly, Obama is NOT our “fierce advocate,” but that doesn’t change the fact that if a Republican were in the Oval Office, DADT would still be the law of the land. Every election is a choice: voting your conscience means voting for who is best (or least bad.)
    Considering that American elections are winner-take-all, to make the best choice, you also have to consider the viability of the candidates. In a close contest, a vote for a Green is same as not voting, like Florida 2000. Come to think about it, Al Gore was also not a fierce advocate, but he would have been better for our country than W.

    Aside: Everyone, except multimillionaires maybe, faces a small probability of catastrophic health care expenses. It follows that universal health insurance is necessary, unless we’re going to start turning away uninsured away at emergency rooms. Requiring everyone to buy insurance from a third party and subsidizing it for the needy is definitely round-about. The new system, however, is better than the old, which while ALSO heavily subsidized left tens of millions uninsured.

  • dizzle

    Um, jason? No. Obama didn’t ‘just sign it because we threatened to vote Republican’, he had CAMPAIGNED on this. Big difference. BIG. And I’m not an Obama apologist at all, but let’s call a spade a spade.

  • benson

    Walker isn’t an attention whore like Dan Choi. Choi is crazy and needs help.

    The anger at HRC is amusing. HRC made the deal back in February – well BEFORE the crazy antics of Dan Choi and his GetEqual freaks.

    HRC isn’t the best organization around, but they made this deal – not the street performers.

  • ~R~

    @benson: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Thanks for the laugh!

  • Walker Burttschell

    Ok, I guess I should respond now..

    First my hair was a mess in this video (I tried to get her to let me keep my hat on)…sorry guys.

    I’ve gotten a lot of grief abt the HRC “fuck you” letter. But I don’t regret signing my name to the bottom and I’ve explained to HRC why. At the time of the letter, HRC had sidetracked from DADT to focus on the elections. Me, being self-centered and selfish, wanted HRC to put more focus on DADT being that it was the only piece of legislation up for a vote. I felt the letter would be a good way to get their attention. HRC came around and started working hard again on DADT (I doubt it was because of the letter) and we, collectively, achieved success. Obviously, HRC played an important role in repealing DADT this year and I’m grateful to them and every other group/persons (SLDN, SU, GetEqual, etc.) that got involved.

    Finally, I do have to thank the President. Although we wish he would have been more outspoken, we would have never seen repeal this year without his leadership.


  • Jon

    Walker is such a dream boat!!! I want to marry him!!!

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