If ever proof were needed that our being out, contributing members of society is what hastens the movement for LGBT equality forward, it was delivered last night in the speech Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) gave before the Washington state Senate passed the marriage equality bill on a 28-21 bipartisan vote.

Mr President I rise in support of this bill. One of the main reasons I’m doing that and why I’m explaining my ‘yes’ vote is, this is really not a political winner for me. Referendum 71 failed in my district. I’ve received more e-mails, phone calls, visits telling me to vote ‘no’. I’ve even received several text messages during this debate, to vote ‘no’ on this bill. But let me tell you why I’m supporting this bill.

I’ve served in the Army for over 20 years. During that time I’ve been on numerous assignments, and even deployed to two combat zones. Now I’m in the National Guard, and this weekend I have drill.

I’m going to see many of my other fellow shoulders, and they’ll be wearing the right shoulder patch indicating which unit they went to war with. Some of them will have the combat infantryman’s badge indicating they were in close combat with the enemy. Many still deal with PTSD.

And some of those soldiers that I’ve served with are gay. How can I look them in the eye Mr. President this weekend, if I voted ‘no’ on this bill? How could I stand next to them if I voted ‘no’ on this bill? How could I deny a right that I enjoy to my fellow brothers and sisters that are willing to take a bullet for me, and fight beside me in any combat situation?

The current estimates, about 66,000 gays are in the armed forces today. Many of those have served in the current war. Some of them gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country. Much like Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, who died exactly one year ago placing himself in front of a bomb to protect his fellow Marines. That was 3 months after Obama lifted Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

You know there’s a line in the Soldier’s Creed that I never forget. The Soldier’s Creed is drilled into every soldier’s head. But the most important line is, “Never leave a fallen comrade behind“.

Mr. President, I will never leave a fallen comrade behind. Not now, not ever, and that’s why I’m voting ‘yes’ on this bill.

Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer