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Guest Post: Veteran, Patriot, Second-Class Citizen

Guest post by: Adrian Matanza, Senior Regional Field Organizer, Human Rights Campaign

Voices from the Campaign: Lance Garland

With the momentum for marriage equality in Washington state growing, folks like Lance Garland, a native Washingtonian and Navy veteran, have been volunteering with the campaign lending their voices and helping make the case that the time is now for marriage equality.

Lance writes:

My name is Lance J. Garland. I was born and raised in Washington State. I am a veteran of the United States Navy, a patriot, a college student, and a second-class citizen. During my time in the Armed Forces, I had the unfortunate experience of being a key witness in a criminal trial. This situation became personally dangerous when the prosecution used “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to invalidate my testimony, label me a criminal, and legally require the Navy to dishonorably discharge me. Thanks to my fellow service members and superiors, a miracle happened; I was not discharged under DADT. 

After I completed my service, I began working on telling my story. Almost all service members who go to war hope to return home to start a family. DADT is no longer in effect but I returned home to Washington state to find that I was still a second class citizen.

Washington state law prohibits me from becoming a part of the moral fabric and foundation of society. Instead, I am regarded as a second-class citizen, with unequal status. Now that Washington United has been formed, my dream has the possibility of becoming a reality. A bipartisan-supported bill is being introduced in the state legislature, providing marriage equality to all loving, committed couples. I started volunteering for the cause, and began canvassing with HRC’s organizer Halei Watkins. Much like my experience in the Navy, the view from the ground, the view from the front lines, is far more optimistic than I had suspected. I have personally witnessed unfathomable support from the majority of the people that I have had conversations with on the street, and their support propels me to continue my efforts and work even harder.

As a veteran, a patriot, a proud Washingtonian, I ask the rest of my fellow citizens to stand with me and support marriage equality in Washington State. The time is now to end inequality and discrimination.

Join Lance, Halei, and countless others across the state helping to make marriage equality a reality. Click here to sign up to volunteer.

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