For members of the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance, Veterans Day came a little early. Yesterday, the group honored LGBT veterans at Congressional Cemetery, where they held a small service at the grave of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich. After serving three tours of duty in Vietnam, Sgt. Matlovich made waves in the 1970s as one of the first openly gay service members, which led to his discharge in 1975. His grave is inscribed with the words “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 14,000 veterans have been discharged for their sexual orientation since the institution of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and an estimated 60,000 active members of the military are gay.