Pride month patriots

  • Published
  • By Amylynn Whetzell
  • Pride Month Committee
Throughout history, there are some whose courage effect positive change for future generations. This week, we recognize the pride patriots who sacrificed, forged, fought, and paved the way for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, equality.

Eric Fanning is the undersecretary of the Air Force. He is responsible for all Air Force affairs on behalf of the secretary of the Air Force, including organizing, training and equipping the force. He served as acting-Secretary of the Air Force prior to Secretary Deborah Lee James. Fanning is the highest-ranking openly-gay person in the Department of Defense. As reported in an ABC News article Fanning said "I think that the military is stronger, institutions are stronger, and society is stronger the more inclusive that we are. So wherever we can root out discrimination, I think it's a positive thing."

Edith "Edie" Windsor is beloved within the LGBT community. Engaged in 1967, two years before the Stonewall riots, Windsor and her partner of over 40 years. Thea Spyer and Windsor were legally married in Canada in 2007. Spyer passed away from Multiple Sclerosis complications in 2009. Upon her wife's death, Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife's estate. If federal law had recognized the validity of their marriage, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction and paid no federal estate taxes.

In "United States v. Windsor," Windsor tenaciously challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, which federally defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor, and through her bravery, on June 26, 2013, DOMA was deemed unconstitutional. This ruling allows LGBT federal government employees and servicemen and woman to not simply serve and live openly, but also affords recognition of same sex marriages. The federal government now recognizes same sex marriages regarding immigration for bi-national couples. Windsor's bravery ignited change for equality, for spouses to receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. Upon learning of her victory with the Supreme Court, Windsor's first words were, "I wanna go to Stonewall right now!"

Michael Sam is an American Football defensive end who made history in 2014 by becoming the first openly gay player to be drafted to play in the NFL. Sam's courage has already stimulated support from other closeted NFL and various professional sport team members. His courage provides support to other professional players who may have felt compelled to keep their sexual orientation a secret for fear of being ostracized. Furthermore, Sam's openness about homosexuality reaffirms the importance of personal strength especially in times where one may be judged based on stereotypes and personal beliefs instead of performance and merit.