The Huffington Post recently published a short article about how a gay marine’s last day with the United States Military became a send-off filled with support and pride from his unit. Originally posted on Reddit is a photograph of the young marine holding a rainbow flag inscribed with the phrase “Served With Pride” stitched beneath the Marine Corps emblem. The flag was a parting gift from his supportive unit, and a symbol of their relationship with him as an openly gay man, and as an honorable marine.
With positive stories like this one cropping up, it seems almost unreal that discriminatory policies like “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” were in full effect only a few years ago. DADT was a harsh, universally implemented policy that barred all openly gay Americans from serving in the military, something which only officially ended in 2011. While in effect, DADT was very indicative of the homophobia that often runs rampant in military environments. Even now, LGBT rights groups are constantly working to raise awareness about violence and discrimination aimed towards LGBT military personnel.
Sexual assault geared towards women is another huge issue within the military. Women have fought relentlessly to have equal access to positions in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, but every year there are grim stories released about gender-based violence and sexual assault taking place in the military.
Recently, the Defense Department announced that it would begin offering benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel starting in September. It is encouraging to see progress being made towards achieving equality within the military, an institution that is finally giving back to the American people of all races, genders, and orientations that are willing to serve as part of it. With more stories surfacing about military allies and the growing support of minority groups, the future of the military looks much more inclusive.