Pride 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.

Margarethe Cammermeyer was a Vietnam nurse that ascended to the rank of Colonel in the Washington National Guard. In 1989, responding to a question during a routine security clearance interview, she disclosed that she was a lesbian. The National Guard immediately began proceedings against her and in June 1992, was discharged. She filed a lawsuit against the decision in civil court and in June 2004, Judge Thomas Zilly ruled in her favor, citing that her discharge and the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military was unconstitutional. Cammermeyer returned to the National Guard and served as one of the few openly gay or lesbian people in the military while Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect. In 2012, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington State, she and her partner of 24 years became the first same-sex couple to get a license in Island County.

Daniel Choi was a West Point graduate and former infantry officer in the U.S. Army who served in combat in the Iraqi War during 2006 and 2007. In 2009, while in the National Guard, Choi came out as a homosexual while on The Rachel Maddow Show. He publicly challenged America's DADT policy. Choi was discharged in June 2010 for his sexuality. In a letter to President Barack Obama and U.S. Congress, Choi challenged the morality and wisdom of DADT, writing that the policy is "a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers." Choi was present at the Presidential signing of the bill that would repeal DADT.

Major Gen. Patricia Rose is the mobilization assistant to the commander Air Force Materiel Command. She is also the highest ranking openly gay officer in the U.S. military. When promoted to a brigadier general, she requested her friend and neighbor, former Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, to pin her rank in a private promotion ceremony. Upon being promoted to major general, Rose's wife, retired U.S. Navy Lt. Julie Roth pinned Rose's second star. By being open about their sexuality, both Rose and Roth set an example of strength and courage for others.

Rose is also scheduled to be the guest speaker at the Pride Month Luncheon June 25 at the Minuteman Commons from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.