Target: Sergeant Justin Lahl
Goal: Applaud Sergeant Lahl for taking on the leadership role as vice president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Kirtland Air Force Base
Since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, gay military members no longer must hide their sexuality for fear of being discharged. Prior to the repeal, gay members had to keep it a secret or else they could not be in the military. Justin Lahl, a 26 year old Staff Sergeant in the Air Force had to keep quiet about his sexual orientation for 8 years while in the military.
There have been some Gay-Straight Alliance type organizations that have formed since the repeal, and one was started at Kirtland Air Force Base which is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is the only known LGBT organization in the Air Force, but more have formed in the Navy. At Kirtland, Sergeant Lahl is the vice president of the group, which consists of about 12 gay military members along with straight allies and civilians. The group meets every month and is a support group for members who want to talk about the challenges they face being gay in the military.
The group is a great way for service members to feel comfortable talking about their lives with other accepting members. In a statement, Sergeant Lahl said, “It’s been liberating, being able to be myself and not two separate people- one person at work and one at home”. Sergeant Lahl has a husband in the military also who is deployed in Iraq. He is going to go to Iraq in the future and join his husband and form another LGBT support group there. Commend Sergeant Lahl for his bravery and leadership by signing the petition below.
Dear Sergeant Lahl,
Even though the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy has been repealed, many gay military members still struggle with being gay in the military. The new Gay-Straight Alliance type organizations that have been started at some bases are a great way for members to feel comfortable talking about the challenges they face. Kirtland is the first Air Force base with one of these organizations, and hopefully it will be the source of inspiration for many more groups like this to form at other bases.
For 8 years you had to hide your sexual orientation from other military members in fear that you would be discharged. It should have never been that way, and now many gay members still feel they cannot be out. You are a brave Sergeant for not only being out in the military, but helping other members who are struggling with their sexuality.
With the military’s long history of discrimination towards the LGBT community, groups like these are necessary. Thank you for your leadership at Kirtland and your future plans to establish a similar group in Iraq with your husband.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Mark Holm via New York Times