WAR Council

Senior Obama Advisor Celebrates End Of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” At SLDN Dinner

On Saturday, members of the Armed Forces, their families, friends and supporters gathered at the National Building Museum in DC for the 20th annual Servicemembers Legal Defense Network national dinner—the first such gala since the full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in September.

Senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett (right) delivered the keynote address, thanking servicemembers on behalf of the President for their sacrifices.

She also shared a personal story about SLDN staffer David Hall:

In 1996, David joined the Air Force, just like his father and stepfather before him. At Langley Air Force Base, he was one of the top airmen in his flight, and as a weapons loader, he won the Airman of the Quarter award. David served overseas in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, was a distinguished graduate of Airman Leadership School, and was accepted to the Air Force ROTC. In March 2002, he received a slot to train to be a pilot – only about 500 cadets nationwide receive this honor each year.

David was a rising star in our nation’s military, and like all brave men and women who wear the uniform, David made enormous sacrifices for the sake of our country. However, David was forced to live a lie, and always look over his shoulder, because of who he loved.

Then, his promising career was upended, and he was discharged, just for being gay. At the time, he was the highest ranking Air Force ROTC junior in his detachment.

I’m telling David’s story tonight not just because he is a remarkable person – and not just to make him blush. I’m telling his story because it is the story of so many of you, and so many patriotic servicemembers who were forced to live the same kind of lie that David lived, and were discharged, despite serving our country with honor and distinction. That was wrong, and it did not reflect our country’s highest ideals.

Of course, fortunately, David’s story did not end with his discharge. Even when he was barred from serving our country, he never stopped fighting to make it better. Today, he works full time at SLDN, as the Development Director and Information Technology Director.

Like us, Jarret says she’s stunned by how easily the transition to an open military has been:

I’m sure that all of you have seen some of the recent pictures of gay and lesbian servicemembers sharing an embrace, or first kiss with a loved one, when they return home from duty—just like any other family. It’s a reminder that the men and women of our armed forces have handled repeal with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from the finest fighting force in the world.

Man, if we didn’t love a man in uniform before...

Photo via Joyce Boghosian

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  • Marie Cohn

    VJ now needs to get her buddy Barack to lead, instead of following, on marriage equality. Or is she still “evolving” too? Her talk is cheap–and maudlin.

    The plain fact of the matter is the repeal of DADT, in practical terms, happened despite, not because of her boss, who continued to sit on his hands throughout the process, mouthing similar nicey-nicey platitudes even at the eleventh hour. No–it took Joe Lieberman to do the heavy lifting when and where it counted to put it over.

  • No-Obot

    Oh, and don’t forget how Obama’s (in)Justice Department and his homophobic lackey, AG Holder, defended DADT (as well as DOMA) before the courts as being constitutionally allowable discrimination for two years even as one federal court after another struck them both down. And they continued the appeals just before the Democrats got their asses handed to them in the 2010 mid-term elections as betrayed Liberals and Progressives stayed home in droves.

    You can only screw around with your political base for so long until they finally turn on you. Even a whipped dog has its limits and will eventually fight back. Dumbass, corporatist, “status quo” seeking, run to the right-of-middle after elected, Democratic politicians never learn that lesson until it is too late.

    The Republicans fear their base…the Democrats loath their base. That is why DEMs lose more often. Betrayal is not a virtue.

  • the crustybastard

    Did Valerie forget to mention that Obama’s “legislative repeal” ensured that neither David, nor any other gay person, could sue for being discharged because of unfair discrimination?

    Did she also forget to mention that the “legislative repeal” ensured that gay servicemembers and their families now get to work the same jobs for fewer or no benefits?

    They’re an absent-minded bunch, these Friends of Barack.

  • Michael Bedwell

    Great to see others not fooled by the steaming crocks of horseshit Obamahack Jarrett is infamous for serving. I’ll add that, contrary to one of her many Big Lies, Obama DID “waiver”—backing the Pentagon’s May 2010 demand that the original repeal bill that he’d promised to PERSONALLY fight for be gutted of equal protections for gay service members against harassment and on-the-job discrimination IN the military. No mention, of course, that he’s STILL refusing the request by….wait for it….drum roll….SLDN that he order the Pentagon to provide such protections as well as ALL benefits not explicitly banned by DOMA. They admitted that they legally COULD, e.g., let gay couples live in “military family housing” but are CHOOSING not to. Yes, we’re now allowed to get ON the bus openly gay, but we’re forced to sit in the back. WHY is he still letting them get away with such ongoing discrimination?

  • Misty

    @No-Obot: @No-Obot: Yeah, because all black people are homophobes, right? And there are no gay blacks in the world.

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