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letter to the editor

a gay soldier's husband

April 2009
Hi, my name is D and my partner of 16 years is currently serving in Iraq.  We are raising a 13 year old girl together.  I started to blog to express the aggravation, fear and frustration that Don't Ask, Don't Tell forces on Gay and Lesbian families like mine.  

It would be good to have access to the Base support services.  I really don't have any idea what they would be, but I imagine things like spousal and family phone trees, potlucks and various other gatherings, counseling; the benefit of sharing with others going through similar things. 

Fair is not a word I use much anymore.  There is no guarantee of fairness in this life.  There are those who will sympathize with me, those who scold me that I knew what I was getting into, and even those will who tell me I shouldn't have any 'special rights'. 

What I think, however, is that it is just plain cruelty.  It's cruel that a good soldier, who has been shot at, rocketed, mortared since his first day on duty in Iraq never got to say a proper goodbye to the person he loves.  Instead, with our daughter in the backseat, we pulled behind a warehouse at the edge of the base, stepped out of the car and held each other briefly in the pouring rain.  The rain started to change to snow.  I dropped him a bit away from the main gate, so that nobody would see me, and he walked alone in the sleet  to report for duty.  I held it together so that he could make that walk without looking back in worry.  I held it together because I didn't want our daughter to be scared as I screamed and pounded my fists on the steering wheel.

We have a code for 'I love you' on the phone, and in our correspondence.  There are things I ache to say to him, but try my best to sound like just a good friend.  My writing is a stilted, messy kind of chicken scratching, no matter how hard I try - I looks like a guy's writing.  I could type it or have someone transpose it, but I refuse.  I stubbornly want him to somehow find comfort in its familiarity, in its messiness.

We are blessed with a cadre of close friends who have promised to send all sorts of goodies to him.  I know that soldiers long for these things; sometimes out of necessity, but more as a touchstone to home and the people they love.  I wonder how he'll feel as his buddies pass around pictures of their wives and girlfriends.  I wonder if he'll make up stories, remove himself or stay painfully silent.  I think the bond forged with his buddies in battle will suffer - him having to always hold back just a little; these the men who go through things together that I can't even imagine.

Fairness has nothing to do with it.  But, if anyone has a sliver of a conscience, an ounce of empathy, it should make them squirm in your their seat a little.  At least I hope it does, because then there is the hope that it will change some day.

  2009  Gay Military Signal