It’s time for Georgia to get on ‘right side of history’
by Steve Dix
May 25, 2014 04:00 AM | 4990 views | 22 22 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In March 2003, my son told me that he had some news that I might not want to hear. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“Dad, I want to go into the Peace Corps.”

He was nervous to tell me this because he assumed I’d want him to join the military because of our family’s long history of service. I spent two years at the Naval Academy and served during the Vietnam Era as a member of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. My father was in the Royal Navy during World War II and my uncle served in the British Merchant Marine. My brother is a retired Air Force Colonel and my nephew, who is on active duty in the Army, flies Apache helicopters.

I’ve always been proud of my son, and I told him that service — no matter the kind — is still service to be admired.

After returning from the Peace Corps, he said a similar thing, “Dad, I have something to tell you.”

Only this time, the next words I heard were, “I’m gay.”

My first exposure to dealing with anyone who was gay was while I was on active duty. From time to time in my role as a Navy lawyer in the 1970s, I was assigned to represent gay sailors who were being administratively processed out of the service simply because it was discovered that they were gay. I cannot honestly say that I was sympathetic to them at that time, but invariably their service records were spotless. And yet in all but one case, there was nothing I could do to save their careers.

At that point, though, I was acutely aware that it was an incredible waste for the Navy to be discharging really good sailors, and that just made no sense.

So, like most people, I have my own journey of coming to embrace and celebrate marriage equality. There was never an “Aha!” moment for me, but rather a gradual chance to get to know people and realize — through seeing their struggles and yearning to be embraced as full and equal citizens under the law — just how much marriage equality really matters to me.

That’s why, when Josh came out to me, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t upset, or uncomfortable. I was, as I always have been, proud of my son — for being an honest young man and true to himself. He’s a family man who I know would love to be married and be a father someday.

Ultimately, what matters most is what kind of a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman — and what kind of a person — you are. Do right by each other, treat people as you want to be treated, and respect the differences and diversity that make our nation such a great place to live, work and raise a family.

But we can always be better, and we can take a big step in the right direction by extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Georgia and across our country.

Marriage matters, and it’s important to all of us. I’ve learned that lesson through the years in my own marriage, and my son — and everyone, frankly — deserves the same opportunity.

My son is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, where he just finished his dissertation proposal defense to excellent reviews. I’m not surprised, because he has always been a motivated, talented, creative thinker.

My daughter is married and expecting her first child this fall. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. I must admit, though, that it’s hard to see my other child singled out and treated differently by the law and the state of Georgia just because of who he is. All I want for my son is that he has the same opportunity and chance to know the fulfillment and recognition of marriage like anyone else.

I have been married for more than 40 years, and like any father, I hope I’ve instilled good values in my children and shown them the importance of commitment and being there for one another through life’s ups and downs. Marriage isn’t always the easiest thing, but the most rewarding opportunities life gives us are rarely easy.

As a veteran, Memorial Day is always an important day for me to remember the brave men and women who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. I can’t help but wonder, though, how many of those soldiers gave their lives fighting for our freedoms, while simultaneously not having the basic freedom to marry the person they loved.

It’s time for the State of Georgia and Georgians to get on the right side of history.

Steve Dix of Cobb County served in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 1973 to 1982. Since his release from active duty in 1979, he has been actively engaged in the practice of law, and most recently served as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of a company located in Alpharetta.
Comments
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Cindy's Sister
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May 30, 2014
Wow, from the reaction to SgtMaj Armstrong's remarks, looks like he was right on target. The truth hurts!

Err, EllisJayus aka Foley, once again your credibility to comment on military matters is on parade for all to see. SgtMaj Armstrong is a Sergeant Major (E-9) and not a Sergeant. Please, Foley, any remarks you make about anyone's military service or for that matter, anything about anything related to the military are always in complete error. Having never served a day in uniform, Foley, you have zero, absolutely zero, credibility to comment on military affairs and military personnel.
EllisJayus
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May 29, 2014
Wow, Sgt Armstrong, I'll bet you love to quote those military geniuses GWBush (hiding out somewhere in the underbush of the Texas National Guard property), Dick Cheney (how many deferments?), Donald Rumsfeld(Viet-who?) and Paul Wolfowitz (What did you do in the war, Daddy?)who so heroically sent our young men and women (Yes, women are soldiers, too, these days) into a quagmire in the wrong IRA (W- it was supposed to be the N, not the Q). They'll find the WMDs when OJ find the "real" killer.

How dare you impugn the patriotism of Mr. Dix? Would you question the value of service of the military attorneys who helped prosecute Nazis at Nuremberg because they did not engage in combat? Just a different type of combat, sir....and, possibly, more valuable. To quote Jack Nicholson in a memorable military movie some years ago, it appears that you "can't handle the truth." Go, Steve Dix!
Cobb Truth Watch
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May 28, 2014
News Flash For Foley:

It is the Democrats who have repeatedly blocked appropriation bills and accountability bills for the Veterans Administration.

The obstruction of H.R. 4031 by Democrat Harry Reid and Senate Democrats was a Memorial Day gift to America's veterans from the Democrats. H.R. 4031 would have held VA managers accountable for their actions, but no, the Democrats instead chose to protect their friends in the government employee unions.

Foley is never one to let the truth stand in his way. Democrats clearly chose to support unions, instead of American veterans.
LeRoy Garumf
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May 27, 2014
Don't take a rocket scientist to know the difference between discrimination and someone who makes a personal choice to live a particular lifestyle.

Least dats what my pappy used ta say.
Cindy Post
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May 27, 2014
The American left and their willing accomplices in the democreep party and media are shameless, when it comes to advancing their leftist social narrative. Our veterans are just another throw away prop, to be used by them when needed, then discarded when no longer needed. They have infected our military with thought and speech police to enforce their secular progressive agenda.
Ben Twomey
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May 27, 2014
Nicely said, Steve. However, it would be nicer if you had said it BEFORE finding out you had a gay son.
Steve Dix
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May 27, 2014
Ben, I am a bit confused by your comment. I think I made it clear that my position in favor of marriage equality had fully evolved long before I knew my son was gay. It's why his coming out was such a non-event. Do not think for one minute that I fall into the category of making a flip-flop once I understood that I was directly affected.
Ben Twomey
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May 28, 2014
Steve, I did not address when or how your "position in favor of marriage equality" evolved, or even if it did or not. My comment was concerned only with when you made a public statement about it.

I know many folks who have no problme with marriage quality, but, without a major personal event, they are loath to state so publicly.
Steve Dix
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May 27, 2014
With all due respect to Sgt Major Armstrong, not that he has shown any to me, I have at no time made any pretense at having combat experience. The fact is that there are any number of retired senior officers and enlisted men and women in all the branches who never had combat experience because they were fortunate enough to serve between the end of the Viet Nam era and the start of the first Gulf War. Is he prepared to call all of them "chairborne rangers," too? Not that the role of combat has anything to do with the point that I was making in the article. For good measure, let's not forget the words of Senator Barry Goldwater (not exactly a scion of the liberal political wing)- "Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar." He also said, "You don't need to be 'straight' to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight."

So, Sgt. Major, you have your battles to fight, and I have mine. Thanks for your service to the country, even if the feeling is not mutual.
Charlie12
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May 27, 2014
Take a look at the present condition of our veterans hospitals. This is a clear statement from the dimocrats and those on the left as to the truth of what they think of our brave veterans. The secular progressive dimocrats regard our veterans as just another prop to advance their social agenda. Actions speak louder than words.
Steve Dix
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May 27, 2014
Charlie 12,

Among the other duties I had while I was on active duty was to serve as a Casualty Assistance and Condolence Officer. That means I had the duty of making the initial in person call informing families when their sons or daughters had been lost while on active service. Fortunately, I was on active duty during peace time, so there were relatively few of those calls to make, and invariably they were the result of training accidents. I also used to go to the Veterans Hospital close to my duty station, and work with some of the patients there who were no longer being treated at military hospitals. These were men who had been very badly wounded during the VietNam War. I am quite aware of the devastation and horror these guys have been through. So get off your presumptive high horse before you accuse me of not knowing or understanding what all of this means.
Kevin Foley
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May 27, 2014
Charlie 12 - About as ignorant a statement as I've read in the MDJ's online comments, and that's saying something.

Republicans have been cutting funding for veterans for years. More on that in my Friday column.
GusK
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May 28, 2014
Re Cindy Post's comment. Look at who votes for funding veterans' services and who against.
Ben Twomey
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May 28, 2014
@Foley. Do us all a favor Foley. Keep you trap shut for just one week.

We all know the mess the VA is in and who is not doing anything about it. It's not about funding, it's about mistreatment of patients and misallocation of assets. In shortm it is a cesspool example of single payer coverage in action. Your boy, Barack has done nothing about it, in spite of promising to fix it, both times you simpletons elected him.

STAN GREENSPAN
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May 26, 2014
Nicely said, Steve. You have every right to be proud of your children and see them happy.
Sgt Major Armstrong
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May 26, 2014
Steve Dix, a chairborne ranger with zero combat service.

And Foley, who has zero military service.

Two zeros who pretend to know the complicated mechanics of managing and leading combat troops.
Raphael48
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May 26, 2014
Sgt. Armstrong, a soldier with zero experience living in the real world. Stay in the Army Armstrong, you don't have what it takes to live in the real world with real people. Oh, and don't forget to take your testosterone supplements....
Ben Twomey
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May 27, 2014
Raphael, First of all, when you get old enough to shave more than once a week, you might find out that

people in the military all lived in the so-called

"real world" before they decided to offer their lives to protect your right to be stupid.

For our amusement, please defin "real world" and "real people", based on your seriously limited experience
Mike in SWFL
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May 27, 2014
Sgt Major, your rather rude personal attack on the writer and his son has zero to do with the topic at hand. It also speaks volumes about the type of character you have-- and that's not a good thing.
Steve Dix
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May 27, 2014
With all due respect to Sgt Major Armstrong, even though he showed none to me, I never made any pretense at having combat experience in the article. I wonder though, if the Sgt. Major would also call all those officers and enlisted men and women whose entire active service fell between the end of the Viet Nam era and the First Gulf War, and thus never had combat experience, "chairborne rangers" as well. As Senator Barry Goldwater (not exactly a leader of the liberal wing of US politics) put it many years ago. "You don't have to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just have to shoot straight." Well, the good Sgt. Major has his battles to fight, and I have mine. I thank him for his service to our nation, even if the sentiment is not reciprocated.
Tyler Durden
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June 02, 2014
Guarantee I got my boots at least as dirty as yours Sgt. Major. You may disagree with Mr. Dix, but your disrespectful tone and personal attacks belie an inferiority complex, at best. My military experience taught me to respect others opinions, and listen, and act, more than run my mouth. Sad that everyone didn't have the same experience.

Good luck to you and your family Mr. Dix.
Kevin Foley
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May 25, 2014
Excellent commentary, Steve. I have worked with and have gay friends. There is no reason whatsoever to discriminate against them.
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