Monday, October 5, 2009

Gay Marine - A Profile In Courage

Tim Smith, a four-year Marine, was just days away from assignment in Iraq a Marine chaplain betrayed a confidence and revealed to Smith's superiors that Smith was gay. Smith was honorably discharged and returned to his home in Memphis, Tennessee where he now attends university.

In a story that has now made national and international headlines, Tim Smith once again donned full Marine and appeared on a Memphis billboard, along with a message that said, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." A plain simple and TRUE statement.

Then, some cowardly bigot ripped the billboard to shreds in the dark of night.

Smith says he expected some backlash, but nothing quite like this. “As a gay veteran, I have to be able to speak for those still serving in uniform that aren't able to." He added, "It was more or less shock and then it turned to righteous indignation and anger towards whoever had done it and that the act had even been committed,” says Smith.

It's not the first time Smith has faced adversity because of his sexual orientation. He was kicked out of the Marines under the 'Don’t Ask, Don't Tell policy' -- less than a month before he was supposed to deploy to Iraq.

“It was the result of a minister pushing the issue of my being gay and being allowed to continue to serve,” says Smith.

Despite the billboard's destruction, Smith says he feels the attitude towards gay people is changing. “I think the person or persons who did this are of a dying breed and that kind of hate is a dying hate.”

Smith says there have not been any threats made against him, and he's not afraid.

The billboard has gone back up, along with four other billboards with different messages, all in time for National Coming Out Day.

Memphis police say they are investigating this as a theft of property. Right now, it has not been classified as a hate crime. Duh. Memphis police have their heads up their asses.

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