US Marine Corp recognizes LGBT Marines, fights online trolls for Pride Month
For Pride Month this June, the US Marine Corp came up with a force-wide message that recognized LGBT Marines in their ranks.
When online trolls criticized the message, a Marine officer fought back to reinforce the Corp’s message.
Marine Corp after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
The Marine Administrative Message (MARADMIN) read: “During the month, we take the opportunity to recognize our LGBT Service Members and reflect upon the past.”
“We celebrate their successes and recognize the contributions they have brought to our Corps. This year we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’,” the message read.
The message referenced the tenth anniversary of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy of then-President Bill Clinton in 1993 that eased restrictions on LGBT service members.
However, the policy required them to hide their sexual orientation or else risk being kicked out of service. Under this policy, more than 13,600 service members were kicked out of the military for their sexuality.
In December 2010, then-President Barack Obama signed the law repealing the DADT policy. Likewise, in September 2011, service members didn’t risk discharge based on their sexual orientation.
The message further read: “Commanders and leaders are encouraged to take time to recognize the 2020 LGBT Pride Month, and promote participation in observance events throughout their local communities.”
Marine officer defends LGBT Marines
When the Facebook page for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina posted a picture to honor Pride month and LGBT Marines, they received some negative comments.
Some commenters said the post was an attack on religious freedom and a negative direction for the US Marine Corps.
However, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough, a communications officer for the recruit depot, defended the Corps’ stance, especially in its push for diversity.
“I would imagine all the LGBT that was kicked out of the service would disagree. No heterosexuals were kicked out due to sexuality. The policy was terrible and needed to go away,” Yarbrough told one commenter who said the policy worked fine.
When another said the Corp is succumbing to “influences,” Yarbrough replied: “No one is asking you do anything but accept them as themselves.”
Other LGBT allies also responded in defense against the negative comments and lauded Yarbrough’s actions. As one commenter wrote: “Are you a Marine? If the answer is yes that’s all that matters! Semper Fi.”
US Marine Corp backs LGBT responses
While Capt. Joseph Butterfield, the spokesperson for the Headquarters Marine Corps, didn’t comment on the responses posted by Yarbrough, he did say most of Yarbrough’s responses matched with the Corp’s values.
“Although social media management policies vary between commands, much of the dialogue on this post shows the command responding directly to statements that are not in line with Marine Corps values or current policy,” Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Marine Corps Times in an email.
Denying that they were deleting or blocking negative comments, Butterfield said: “Muting or deleting negative comments allows certain thought processes to go unchallenged.”
“Social media is a two-way communication tool that allows us to engage multiple audiences directly, and sometimes that means disagreeing with members of an audience,” he added.
As the MARADMIN stated in their conclusion: “The Marine Corps is committed to living the values we defend and treating everyone equally, and with dignity and respect.”
“As such, the Marine Corps takes pride in building strength through diversity,” it declared.