Gay Rights Eleven Years After Matthew Shepard's Death

October 13 2009, 10:54 AM

Joseph Rocha, a junior at the University of San Diego, writes in The Washington Post of his experiences as a gay sailor in the U.S. Navy: "Once I joined the Navy, I was tormented by my chief and fellow sailors, physically and emotionally, for being gay. The irony of 'don't ask, don't tell' is that it protects bigots and punishes gays who comply." In the wake of the 11th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death (which was yesterday), gay-rights rallies are putting pressure on President Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military (via CBS News). Over the weekend, gay rights advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., to send Obama a reminder of that pledge and of another: to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Despite the opposition last week of politicians, including Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, Colorado's two Republican U.S. representatives, the House passed a hate-crimes-prevention measure named for Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. (via The Colorado Independent).