DADT Repeal Advocate CAPT Joan E. Darrah Celebrates Her Marriage Against the Backdrop of Historic Victory
I have the honor of being the Board Chair at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, in Alexandria, Va. On Friday December 17th, after 20 years together, my partner, Lynne Kennedy, and I — with about 20 family members and close friends, and our Minister, Kate Walker — went into Washington DC to the Albert Einstein Memorial to get married. It was a small, but, wonderful opportunity for us to publicly and officially declare our love and lifelong support for each other.
The next day, Saturday the 18th, we had invited over 200 people (they all showed up!) to our home to help celebrate our first day of marriage, our 20th anniversary and my upcoming 60th Birthday. At 3 o’clock, we were given the biggest reason ever to celebrate – the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
After years and years of hard work and dogged determination by thousands of people who knew the injustice of this law, DADT is finally on its way out. UU’s around the Country should be proud of their role in this victory. The Action of Immediate Witness adopted at the 2007 General Assembly calling for the Repeal of DADT was drafted and submitted by the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church.
It is an honor to be affiliated with an organization that not only has strong values but has the courage and commitment to live these values.
This is a truly historic event for our Country and our military! This is the beginning of the end of DADT, a blatantly un-American law that for years has forced honorable gay men and women to live a lie. As a Naval officer who served for 29 1/2 years, much of it under DADT, I know firsthand how incredibly difficult this has been for the tens of thousands of American service members who have been living under this dreadful law.
I am totally confident that our military men and women will adapt easily to this change and that, in the long run, our military and our Country will be stronger.
In my experience, the skin color or religion or ethnic background or gender or sexual orientation of my shipmates was never an issue; what mattered was their ability and commitment to accomplish the mission at hand. Soon, honorable Americans who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their Country will no longer be forced to serve in silence. The impact of this change will be felt throughout the Country. Finally, we will stop sending a message to our young people that because they are gay, our country’s military does not want their service, regardless of their ability or skills.
This is a momentous day in the history of our great Country. Thank you all for your part in this historic victory!!
-CAPT Joan E. Darrah, USN (Ret) Board Chair, Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, Alexandria, VA
Editor’s note: CAPT Joan E. Darrah deserves major credit for her tremendous work over the years to end DADT. Click below to see more of her story, featured on NBC Nightly News.