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I graduated from Annapolis in 1972, before women were allowed in America's military academies. Some of my classmates, however, were secretly gay.  But that didn't stop them from graduating and becoming officers in the Navy and Marines. Nor did it stop them from dying in Vietnam and other wars, their flesh and blood being completely indistinguishable in a firefight.

This year, the year NC House Speaker Thom Tillis gave our state the cancerous Amendment One, openly gay men and women are finally graduating from America's military academies.

Gay students at America's military service academies are wrapping up the first year when they no longer had to hide their sexual orientation, benefiting from the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that used to bar them from seemingly ordinary activities like taking their partners openly to graduation events.

For the first time, gay students at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis were able to take a same-sex date to the academy's Ring Dance for third-year midshipmen. The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., officially recognized a club for gay students this month. And gay cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., are relieved they no longer have to worry about revealing their sexuality.

On this special Memorial Day in 2012, I hope every person in North Carolina who voted for Amendment One will fall to his or her knees and ask forgiveness from those in uniform, gay and straight alike, who have sacrificed their lives to protect voters' rights to enshrine bigotry in our state constitution.

Originally posted to Zinc on Mon May 28, 2012 at 07:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Milk Men And Women, Angry Gays, and LGBT Kos Community.

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