Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Stories from the Frontlines: LCpl. Danny Hernandez, USMC (Separated)

“Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.  The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.  By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes!  We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.

April 28, 2010
Danny Hernandez
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I was humbled to have earned the title of U.S. Marine just two years ago – my goal since I was 14 years old. But just nine weeks ago, I was informed of my discharge under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

Mr. President, if I could be serving my country right now – I would be. Instead, I was fired while you were my Commander and Chief.

The stories we hear of discharged service members are becoming far too common and are based around a primitive law that we should have eliminated years ago. As this injustice continues to hurt our country, we are in desperate need of your support and leadership as we work to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

After I finished my training, I was a 20-year-old reservist. I returned to school to continue working on my undergraduate degree with hopes of becoming an officer. I wish I could tell you about my distinguished service, about stories from the war overseas, or about how being a Marine has changed my perspective on life, but I can’t.

My discharge came from the fear that my sexual orientation was going to be revealed by a third party; a group of unknown Marines who threatened to use my sexuality as a way to retaliate after a dispute in a bar. I had spoken with two fellow Marines from my unit; both of whom I trusted. They calmed me, told me that it wasn’t a big deal, and reassured me that everything was going to be fine.

I returned to drill only to find out that the two Marines – the Marines I confided in -- had mentioned it and word had reached my 1st Sergeant and Commanding Officer. They told the two Marines to submit written statements detailing everything I had told them.

When I walked in to my 1st Sergeant's office the first question out of his mouth was, "Are you gay?"

I answered honestly. The investigation was now underway.

The 1st Sergeant proceeded to tell me that there was no way he could protect my privacy in the matter, citing the “grapevine,” and having no control over what people within the unit said or did. I was told by my CO to hang tight and wait to hear from the Battalion Commander.

Ultimately I was discharged, a fate I found out only through my persistent calls and emails. My dreams of being an officer had been shattered and it felt as if the world was tumbling down on me and all I could do was step aside.

Upon earning the title of Marine, I took an oath and vowed to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This enemy is a domestic one, and with your direction as Commander and Chief, this is a war in which we can be victorious.

“Semper Fidelis” is the Marine Corps motto meaning “Always Faithful.” Not only am I willing and anxious to go overseas, but I am prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect our freedoms.

I have remained faithful to my country; please be faithful to me.

Very Respectfully,
LCpl. Danny Hernandez,
USMC (Separated)

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Irvin in New York on April 29, 2010 at 04.12 pm


1. It would make sense to allow them a choice. I’d reenlist regardless.

2. Thank you, that clears up some of the questions that I’ve been trying to get answers for.

Michael @ on April 29, 2010 at 09.19 am

@ Irvin:

1. No one would be forced back in.

2. Both the House & Senate repeal bills have a readmission provision for those who are interested and were discharged soley because of their orientation. The language in both is virtually identical, and it’s rational that such will be included in the section addressing repeal in any finalized joint DEFAUTH bill. Here is the House version:

“Re-Accession of Otherwise Qualified Persons Permitted- Any person separated from the Armed Forces for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct in accordance with laws and regulations in effect before the date of the enactment of this section, if otherwise qualified for re-accession into the Armed Forces, shall not be prohibited from re-accession into the Armed Forces on the sole basis of such separation.”

Irvin in New York on April 29, 2010 at 06.26 am

I read this news after hearing the name Danny Hernandez. I graduated with a Daniel Hernandez at Parris Island back in ‘07. 3rd Battalion, Lima Company, Plt. 3075. His face looked familiar and name sounded familiar but he wasn’t the Marine I had graduated with. Regardless, it’s unfortunate and sad to keep hearing news like this.

With the policy in effect, more and more service members will be discharged under this ridiculous policy regardless of their mental or physical status or their personal value to the field. It needs to change, hell, it’s 2010. Just look at the British Army for Christ’s sake.

The information on the repeal itself is still vague, however. If and when DADT is repealed, what will happen then? Will anyone discharged under DADT be forced back into service or will they have a choice? Will we be able to get reenlistment waivers for the HRB1 separation code as well as the RE-4 reenlistment code? Or will it only protect those already enlisted and protect them from being discharged for their sexual orientation? It’s probably too early to be asking these things though. Baby steps, you know what they say.

Good luck, Hernandez. To you, and to all of us.

Brian in New York on April 28, 2010 at 11.31 am

LCpl. Hernandez, I hope you will be on the first bus to OCS after DADT is repealed. Thank you for sharing your story.

Peter in Maine on April 28, 2010 at 08.10 am

I am a former US Marine myself.  Honerably discharged.  I served four years of active duty. I myself am a gay US Marine who served with pride for our country and way of life.  Fortunately for me, no one found out except for those who were friends who were gay themselves.  There was speculation, but nothing came of it.  I feel sick to my stomach everytime I hear about a fellow Marine, Soldier, Airman or Navy man who get discharged because of this DADT policy.  Because of this policy, and fear of being discharged under it, is why I did not Re-enlist for another four years of acitve duty.  If it wasnt for this, there would have been a good chance I would have re-enlisted.  I admire men and women like LCpl Danny Hernandez for sharing their story with the public.

Semper Fidelis