No equality for me despite an ancestor that served at Valley Forge with Washington

by CynthiaYockey on May 25, 2009

Washington at Valley Forge, painting by Edward P. Moran, Library of Congress.

Washington at Valley Forge, painting by Edward P. Moran, Library of Congress.

Baron von Steuben training the troops of Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge, 1777. Painting by Augustus G. Heaton, U.S. Archives, 111-SC-83897.

Baron von Steuben training the troops of Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge, 1777. Painting by Augustus G. Heaton, U.S. Archives, 111-SC-83897.

It is Memorial Day and I do wish to honor all the members of our armed services, living and dead. But I am going to have to start insisting on having me all of that equality they talked about today that every other citizen has, and, frankly, practically every illegal alien, too.

I attend Memorial Day services because I play bassoon in the Bel Air Community Band, one of the largest and best community bands in the U.S. We play for the Memorial Day services held in Bel Air, Maryland, because we are patriotic. Many of our members have served in the armed forces, including our conductor, Scott Sharnetzka. Some are currently serving — Aberdeen Proving Ground is nearby.

In the past four years or so since I’ve played with the band on Memorial Day, the talks have been very moving — including a Marine sergeant who lost an arm and both legs in Viet Nam, and last year a father reading a letter from a fallen son. The Air Force National Guard general who spoke this year will be leaving for Afghanistan in a couple of months.

But thanks to Carrie Prejean touting as one of her credentials for speaking against marriage equality for lesbians and gays the fact — I assume she’s telling the truth — that one of her grandfathers fought in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, I found myself listening to the speeches today about liberty and American values and getting angry. One of my ancestors — an I-don’t-know-how-many-greats-grandfather — spent the winter in the Revolutionary Army under Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. (There was no battle with the British at Valley Forge, but it was a turning point of the Revolutionary War simply because enough of an army stayed with Washington to keep the war for independence going.) Grandma said he was so hungry that when he caught a frog and it got away before he could cook it, he cried. Why does the service of MY ancestor not count? Where is MY equality? Why is it legal to deny me marriage equality, a job, a home or the right to enjoy a public accommodation, such as a restaurant or store, for the BEING crime of being homosexual? Why does MY equality vary from state to state, even county to county or city to city?

One of the answers is that our military’s policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” goes a LONG way toward perpetuating inequality for lesbians and gays. It gives our inequality a rationale — we do not have equality because we haven’t paid for it with our service. Never mind that foreigners are allowed to serve in our military as THEIR path to FULL citizenship.

I don’t know my family’s military service history between the Revolutionary War and World War II. During World War II, I think both my mother’s brothers who were old enough were in the Army. I know Uncle Herbert was — I have photos of him in uniform. Both of my father’s brothers were in the military in World War II — his brother Donald was a Flying Tiger in China. (Yes, the same Flying Tigers as the John Wayne film.) His brother Paul was in the Army — oh, and I think Uncle Paul was gay. My parents met in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, separating uranium for the Manhattan Project. (My father is nuclear physicist Hubert P. Yockey.) My mother’s father and one of her sisters worked there, too.

So — why doesn’t MY family’s service count toward MY equality as a homosexual?

And — since we have a far-left Democrat in the White House who promised to end “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” AND Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, NOW really seems like the time for the legislation to remove this policy of inequality. It’s time for liberal gays and lesbians to give Obama a deadline for repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” because enough lesbian and gay pioneers like me have settled in Fiscal Conservative Land that they really do have a place to go now when Democrats don’t keep their promises.

Memorial Day seems like the right time to remember that fighting for equality is a virtue and that fighting for the right to serve in your nation’s military is patriotic and shows the willingness to pay the price of equality in full measure. It is time to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It is time for homosexuals to have equality.

Update, 5/27: Becky, the lesbian libertarian at Just a Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, also has some worthwhile observations about “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and a pertinent video — plus, she has hot illustrations, while the closest I have ever come to heat here is a nude Bea Arthur portrait staid enough to be handing in the Tate Gallery.

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