To commemorate Pride Month and a decade since President Barack Obama repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the U.S. Marine Corps released a statement in solidarity of its LGBTQ+ service members.
First introduced in 1993 by Bill Clinton, the measure’s original aim was to stop military recruiters from asking about an applicant’s sexual orientation, which at the time appeared to be a good thing on paper. However, it did not reverse the pre-existing ban on queer people serving openly in the military, so long as they chose to remain closeted.
DADT created emotional and mental stress for LGBTQ+ military members and their families, and also created windows of opportunity for queer people to be targeted by their leaders and fellow comrades. According to reports, approximately 14,000 LGBTQ+ troops were discharged under DADT, which created a toxic work environment due to the constant fear of being fired.
Obama signed the act repealing the practice in December 2010, but it took a year for the measure to be dropped. The military began directly welcoming out LGBTQ+ service members in September 2011.
"During [Pride] month, we take the opportunity to recognise our LGBT service members and reflect upon the past," the statement read, followed by a brief history of DADT's passing by Bill Clinton. “We celebrate their successes and recognize the contributions they have brought to our Corps. This year we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”
The statement added, “Commanders and leaders are encouraged to take time to recognize the 2020 LGBT Pride Month, and promote participation in observance events throughout their local communities.”
The statement was reshared on Facebook by the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C.
The post was soon bombarded with homophobic comments, which prompted LGBTQ+ members and allies to bite back.
“Never thought I’d see this BS…I’m all for doing your own thing, but for it to be celebrated… wtf, over!” wrote one commenter.
Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough responded to that comment by writing, "We also celebrate Black History Month, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Month of the Military Child, etc. Should we stop celebrating those too?"
One ally wrote, "Lol at all the straight white guys getting bent out of shape over a fricking MARADMIN and a FB post. We can be one team and still celebrate our diverse culture! That diversity is proof of growth. Our different walks of life are what gives us different perspectives and makes us that much more lethal."
Another wrote, "Are you a Marine? If the answer is yes that’s all that matters! Semper Fi."
"June is pride month EVERYWHERE. I'm happy to see the Marines are supporting their LGBTQ brothers and sisters regardless of popular opinion. #PRIDE," commented another.
"Semper Fidelis! I was a mustanger who traded his LCpl chevrons in order to eventually retire as a LtCol. Oh yeah, I’m also gay if that matters," a retiree added.
A former sergeant chimed in: "I came here to say that, as a Marine veteran, I’m proud that this page posted a graphic in celebration of Pride. Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough is a great leader, and I’d like to buy them several of the drink of their choice. Sincerely, SGT McCoy (2008-2013)."