In Memphis, Gay Marine Speaks Out

Monday, October 05, 2009

Less than one month before Tim Smith was supposed to be deployed to Iraq, he was discharged from the Marines under the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy when someone decided to tell. Last month, to protest that policy, he appeared on a billboard sponsored by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, next to the statement, “I’m gay and I protected your freedom.” Within days, vandals tore down the billboard. Tim tells us his story, along with Bianca Phillips, a journalist who’s been covering the story for the Memphis Flyer.

"I take great offense at the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. There are so many wonderful people that I know personally and so many thousands more that have lost their careers, and had their lives drastically effected by a policy that really has no place in the military and in a society that we live in today...I think it's being held in place mainly by a slight few at the very top who still have some misplaced fear and ignorance of a homosexual orientation."
—Tim Smith, discharged gay Marine, on his experience being discharged


Bianca Phillips and Tim Smith

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [5]


Travis is correct. It seems that in the U.S., the military is where integration and acceptance of all marginalized groups begins. This is why it needs to be clear that homosexuals are serving with distinction, AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. Let those who want their identities known, and let us begin to learn to cope with our differences like civilized people.

This too is why it's been critical that women who want to serve be allowed to serve, and it's why not giving them equal recognition for equal sacrifice (because on paper they're not supposed to be in combat) is a big problem. Women are serving with distinction but the lack of recognition keeps all women in the same box.

My deep gratitude for these remarkable men and women. Come to my church any time.

Oct. 05 2009 05:12 PM

Zac - how are black service members treated? What about Islamic service members? or Hispanic? Prejudice is part of American life. Racial differences are just easier to see. But religious and sexuality differences can be hidden sometimes, so we've reduced it to forcing people to hide if they want to even consider serving. Yes, the military does need to keep in mind how others will react to homosexuals, but i think that we need to take the restriction off. If we shelter everyone from the truth about who they serve with, they will never (think they) know anyone who is gay. They will never associate Gay men with the guys they have served as a team with. They will only continue the stereotypes and bigotry and we are where we have always been.

Oct. 05 2009 03:53 PM

Sadly there is a lot to the policy that people don't understand. I Served in the Army for four years and have come across soldiers that we thought might be homosexual, they did they're jobs just as anyone else can but it becomes a nightmare to try to deal with the issues of having openly gay people serving. Once someone admits to being homosexual it changes how people look at them and how they are dealt with. If you separate them away from the main troops you are treating them unfairly and if you don't it can affect the way people deal with the tight and very open living areas you share. Unfortunately the policy is the only way anyone has brought to the table that deals with these issues, If anyone has a better way to address it please let us know

Oct. 05 2009 02:40 PM
David Ezell

How many times has what happened to Tim taken place with thousands (tens of thousands?) of others and not been told? Don't Ask is a vehicle for blackmail and suppression. Everyone from the commander-in-chief down should be ashamed of supporting such an antiquated and abusive system.

Oct. 05 2009 01:21 PM
Marx Dudek

Thank you, Tim, for your service and for your courage.

Oct. 05 2009 11:59 AM

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