Captain Joan Darrah, USN (ret) has written a letter to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell asking to be allowed to address the Republican Party platform committee in support of marriage equality and the freedom to marry when the committee meets in Tampa next week. She wants to explain to the platform committee how supporting marriage equality is in keeping with the ideology of the GOP.
Darrah stated that “If given the opportunity, we will testify in support of the inclusion in the Republican platform of both the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the right of same-gender couples to marry and for those marriages to be recognized by our federal government. Quite simply, these objectives correspond with the ideals of the Republican Party – opposition to government intrusion in people’s lives and a modern military that supports all service members and their families.”
Darrah served for nearly two decades in the US Navy, and on 11 September 2001 she was in the Pentagon attending a meeting that wrapped up at 9:30am. Seven minutes later, American Airlines Flight 77 hit the building and destroyed the room where she had been during the meeting. Seven of her colleagues were killed in that room.
Darrah spent years under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Darrah wrote in her letter “Whenever I recount the events of that day, I think of my wife and how she would have been one of the last people to know that I had been killed, because nowhere in my paperwork or emergency contact information had I dared to list her name. Fortunately, because DADT has been repealed, gay and lesbian service members can now serve openly without the fear of discharge.” She and her wife, Lynne Kennedy, are plaintiffs in McLaughlin v. Panetta which seeks full equality for LGBT couples serving in the military.
Darrah also wrote that “Gay and lesbian service members and their families are making the same sacrifices daily as their heterosexual counterparts. Should they not be afforded the same recognition, benefits, and support services from the country they serve? Should they not receive the same support from their “military family?”
The Democratic Party has already put marriage equality in their party platform.