Alva, a native of San Antonio, Texas, grew up in a military family. He graduated from high school in 1989, weighing just 90 pounds. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1990 at the age of 19 when he already knew he was gay and the U.S. military excluded all gays and lesbians from service, open or not. He served for 13 years, including postings in Okinawa and Somalia. For much of his career, he was out to his fellow Marines. (Picture: Darrell Parsons)
He began working as a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign in 2006. In February 2007, he joined Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts and a bipartisan group of House members when they reintroduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy regarding service in the U.S. armed forces on the part of gays and lesbians.
Alva then served as the Grand Marshall of the 2008 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride parade on Sunday, June 29, 2008.
On July 23, 2008, Alva testified about DADT before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. He said: "Unit cohesion is essential. What my experience proves, they are wrong about how to achieve it. My being gay and even many of my colleagues knowing about it didn’t damage unit cohesion. They put their lives in my hands, and when I was injured, they risked their lives to save mine." He described intimate living conditions while stationed in Somalia. He also reported conversations with military personnel from other countries in which they uniformly expressed surprise that "our Nation is so further behind others when we seem to be the forefront of trying to be the example."
Staff Sergeant Eric Fidelis Alva was the first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War. On March 21, 2003, he was in charge of 11 Marines in a supply unit when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg. Eric Alva and his partner Darrell Parsons met in April 2004 after Alva came back from Iraq. He began working as a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign in 2006. In February 2007, he joined Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT).
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, General Peter Pace said, "I believe homosexual acts between individuals are immoral." Alva commented: "His remarks were insensitive and disrespectful to the thousands of men and women who are serving in the military at this current time under the policy." In December 2010, Marine Corps commandant Gen. James F. Amos said the presence of homosexuals in the marines would pose a "distraction" and that "I don't want to have any Marines that I'm visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction." Alva commented: "He pretty much spit on me, my Purple Heart, and my 13 years of service. I would definitely ask Amos for a meeting to explain his comments, and I’d bring my Purple Heart with me."
When asked by news interviewer Paula Zahn: "Were you ever attracted to a "soldier" in the field?" Alva replied: "I never took my personal life to work."
Responding to a question about whether being in the closet affected him: "On a professional level, no, because I knew I had a job to do. On a personal level, in some ways, yes, because it was hard for me to live sometimes knowing that I was alone or that I couldn't be open about who I wanted to date."
Fighting to Serve: Behind the Scenes in the War to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by Alexander Nicholson
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (September 20, 2012)
Amazon: Fighting to Serve: Behind the Scenes in the War to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Amazon Kindle: Fighting to Serve: Behind the Scenes in the War to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Discharged in 2002 from the US Army under the provisions of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Alexander Nicholson was shocked to learn there was no group advocating DADT’s repeal that was reaching out to active military or veterans organizations. Nicholson believed the repeal effort needed spokespersons who understood military culture, who could talk about DADT’s impact on those who serve to those who serve and served. Someone like him.
From this idea Servicemembers United, the largest organization for gay and lesbian servicemembers, was born. Nicholson and several others who had been discharged under DADT toured the United States, where they spoke at American Legion posts, on radio talk shows, and at press conferences across the South and on both coasts. Surprised at the mostly positive reception that the tour provoked, Nicholson and Servicemembers United were propelled to the forefront of the DADT repeal fight.
In time Nicholson became the only named plaintiff in the successful lawsuit that ordered the policy overturned, forcing the US Congress to act. Fighting to Serve gives a no-holds-barred account of the backstage strategies and negotiations, revealing how various LGBT organizations, the Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House often worked at cross purposes. But in the end, it was the pressure brought by active veterans, a court ruling out of California, and a few courageous senators, representatives, and military leaders that brought the destructive policy to an end.
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3531812.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.