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1. 1956

Jack scrambled for the back door but Tommy elbowed ahead of him, yanking the knob open and tumbling into the kitchen first.

"Aht!" Jack's mom said, "No flying monkeys indoors."

Jack slowed automatically, long trained by the threat of cookie withholding. It didn't dampen his excitement, though. He and Tommy clambered into chairs at the kitchen table and grabbed for their glasses of milk, giddy with their latest plan.

"Mrs. O'Neill, Mrs. O'Neill! Jack and me are going to get married when we grow up!" Tommy said, beaming.

"Jack and I—" his mom corrected automatically, then stopped. The look on her face made Jack put down his glass. Why wasn't she excited? Marrying Tommy was the best idea ever.

"Oh, honey," she said sadly, "boys can't get married to other boys. You can be best friends, though." She paused. "You can even be very good friends, like Aunt Esther and her roommate Anna."

"Yeah, best friends!" Tommy said, excited. "Forever and ever and ever!"

Jack flopped back in his chair, crushed. They were already best friends. Jack wanted to be married to Tommy. It was different, even if he wasn't sure exactly how. But then his mom said he couldn't and Tommy didn't get it. And what did Aunt Esther have to do with anything, anyway? She was a girl!

"Tommy," his mom said, "could you run this casserole dish over to your mother, and tell her I said thank you for the loan? When you come back I'll have cookies for you and Jack."

"Oh, boy!" Tommy said, grabbing the dish and darting out.

"Walk!" Jack's mom yelled after him, and the thundering footsteps through the living room slowed down.

After they heard the front door close, Jack's mom ruffled his hair gently. "I'm sorry, honey. But God says that boys are supposed to marry girls. When you get to school .... You need to know that boys who want to marry other boys, or kiss boys ... they get called really bad names and people are mean to them. It's okay for boys to be best friends with other boys, but you shouldn't ever say anything about wanting anything else."

Jack slumped in his seat, kicking repeatedly at the table leg. "That's not fair. It's stupid."

His mom sighed. "It might seem stupid, but it's the way things are. When you're older, you'll find a nice girl you'll want to marry, and it'll be okay." She added quietly, "Probably."

No way. Jack grimaced and his mom just laughed as she ruffled his hair. Ugh.

"As unlikely as that seems now," she continued. "Come on, sit up. There's a broken cookie here. I think you should eat it before Tommy gets back, so we don't serve a broken cookie to a guest."

Jack took the cookie and dutifully munched on it. He was still pretty heartbroken over not being able to marry Tommy, and that Tommy didn't seem to care. The cookie would help him think of another plan. Like maybe he and Tommy would grow up to be pirates. Pirates didn't get married but they still lived on a ship together and had adventures. And he was pretty sure Tommy would at least stick with the pirates idea.


2. 1976

Jack made his way towards Halsted, through the sketchy neighborhood behind Wrigley Field.

As far as his family knew, he was arriving in Minnesota tomorrow. As far as his friends from the Academy knew, the first day of his leave between graduation and reporting to his next duty station had been spent at a Cubs game.

Both were right. Neither took into account him stopping in after the game at a bar that had a certain reputation.

Jack walked another block south and ducked into the unremarkable tavern on the corner. It was even less remarkable inside—dark and smoky and kind of cramped—except for the clientele. All men. All in denim, or leather, or both. Big mustaches, big sideburns. A jukebox was blaring out "Rollercoaster! Of love!"

The bar was crowded, but Jack squeezed in and got a beer. Just as the bartender smiled in acknowledgment of the sizable tip Jack left, the song switched to "That's the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it ..." and Jack decided to take it as a good omen. He sipped on his beer and tried to quell his nerves.

He'd never dared places like Denver's gay bathhouse—too close to the Academy, too dangerous if he got caught—so this was his first visit to someplace guaranteed to be full of men looking for men.

Not that the men would necessarily be looking for a man clean-shaven, military trim, dressed like any other Midwesterner at the ballpark. Apparently the big city gay lifestyle had a fashion code he sure as hell wasn't living up to. Still, there were a few guys who seemed a little more "normal," and by his second beer he had gotten some smiles and nods that might encourage him to unpeel himself from the wall he'd stuck himself to for reconnaissance purposes.

But as he finally crossed the floor, he heard, "O'Neill!" and froze.

"Fuck, is that really you?"

A short blond man stepped into his path, and Jack said, "Peters?" as soon as his brain translated the long wavy hair and sideburns into the crew cut of his memory.

"Yeah! Yeah. Jesus, it's been since Da Nang? Hell, if I'd had any idea you ..." Jack saw when Peters gave him another look and the penny dropped. "Fuck, you're still in, aren't you?" he said with a snarl. And then Jack remembered hearing about the discharge.

He wasn't sure whether Peters meant "in the Air Force" or "in the closet," but since both were true he kept his mouth shut, brain working overtime on how to keep this from blowing up. He plastered on an innocent look and opened his mouth, but Peters cut him off.

"Don't try to bullshit a bullshitter, O'Neill," he said, with a pointed poke of his finger. "There's way too much chest hair showing in this place for anyone to mistake it for anything but what it is. Hell, I oughta write a letter to the Air Force, for your own good. Those fuckers are going to grind you down to a nub. They don't let you be you, it'll kill something inside you."

Jack snapped, pushing Peters up against a wall, growling into his face,"And I don't fly, it'll kill something inside me. Keep. Your. Nose. Outta. My. Business." He dropped Peters and made a beeline for the door.

All that night he tossed and turned, practicing in his head a story of too many beers at the ballpark, an innocent stop to get a last nightcap and realizing too late his mistake.

It took months to let go of the feeling of looking over his shoulder, the expectation he'd be called before an officer and have to trot out the lie.


3. 1984

Sara pulled their car up to the curb and Jack folded up the map of Cambridge that he'd used to direct her to the address.

"Let's sow some wild oats," she said with a grin.

"Isn't that what they say before marriage?"

She laughed. "Once we have kids, we won't be able to live the 'swinging young marrieds' lifestyle. Let's give it a try while we can." She paused and reached over to give his hand a reassuring squeeze. Okay, this was it.

Sara had done the research, the preliminary meet ups while Jack was on duty. The previous weekend they'd driven down together from Mildenhall for dinner out with Megs and Kenneth, and Jack had agreed with Sara's assessment—he liked them. Now they were at the Greenes' home to—

Nobody does anything they don't want to do, Jack reminded himself for the umpteenth time. The question was, which was worse: pulling back and not doing, or doing and liking?

He was as sure as he could be that this would be okay. Sara had been ahead of him on the Kinsey Report, the sexual revolution, all the cultural shifts that didn't take as well in the Midwest, or the military. Her refreshing matter-of-factness about it all was one of the many things he found appealing about her. And relieving.

Still, it was one thing for her to say she was open about Jack touching another man, it would be another when it happened right in front of her. But Jack was pretty confident that all he wanted for Sara was for her to have fun and be happy, and if Megs could do that he'd be happy for her. He had to trust Sara would feel the same when she saw him with Kenneth.

As he unfolded himself from the passenger seat, Sara met up with him on the curb and took his hand again. Fortified, he walked up to the door with her and knocked.


4. 2005

"So what you're saying is, it's a memory device that's not a Tok'ra memory device, but it's probably developed from the same Ancient memory technology as the Tok'ra device, except by the Goa'uld, and now the Lucian Alliance have it," Cam summed up, sotto voice, while they watched Daniel writhe in his straps.

"That's ... essentially the case, yes," Sam whispered back, letting go of at least twelve technical caveats or clarifications she would tack onto that statement.

They had all fought against their chains, but even Vala hadn't been able to pick her way out, and Sam was pretty sure Daniel wasn't going to be able to resist the mind probing much longer. Karug's assistant had pulled out the drugs to get Daniel talking, and they were wearing down his ability to fight the questioning.

"General Jack O'Neill," Karug pushed again. "When will he be meeting with the Jaffa?"

"Jack, Jack. Hit the road, Jack, Kerouac. Can you picture Kerouac on the road in that behemoth of a truck? So not the beatnik image," Daniel rambled.

"Jack O'Neill. The Jaffa," Karug gritted out.

"Jack Sprat could eat no fat— Boy, that's not true, not if you ever saw him with a bowl of ice cream, which is—face it—basically fat and sugar. Not like Jack and the magic beans. Whoo! You ever share a tent with him off world, you know what I'm talking about."

Sam couldn't help but quirk a smile, mirrored on Teal'c's face as well. Cam looked like he didn't need to know that much about a senior officer, but Vala was intrigued, as always when there was information to be had.

The Alliance techs checked the settings on the memory device while the lieutenant glared threateningly and Karug stood back, waiting.

"Ow," Daniel deadpanned. Sam empathized. It said something about their lives that torture by alien device was routine, if still unpleasant.

He continued his stream of consciousness on anything about the General except the Jaffa summit. "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, or decently quick anyway, considering that ACL. Jack and Jill went up the hill to have a little fun. Jill forgot to take the Pill and now they have a ... hrmm. Anyway, not likely. The only one he's having a little fun with is me, or will after he retires anyway."

Sam felt Cam go utterly still next to her with the same shock she felt, while Daniel rambled on. "Okay, maybe it wouldn't be impossible for me to get pregnant, or him, given the crazy shit that's happened out here. It would be a nice change from dying anyway. Walter can start a book on it."

A quick glance to either side showed that Teal'c and Vala seemed, well, less shocked than she and Cam. Of course they weren't steeped in the same cultural assumptions as the American military.... And that thought was the influence of working with Daniel for ten years.

Karug merely studied Daniel thoughtfully. "So, what would General O'Neill do if he knew we had you?"

Sam started to feel the telltale tingle, and saw Daniel glowing white around the edges.

"You're about to find out," Daniel answered, and then they were suddenly standing on the bridge of the Odyssey, the General standing, hands in pockets, behind Colonel Davidson's command chair.

"Sir," Cam reported immediately, "the Lucian Alliance is about to engage in plans against Homeworld Security and the SGC with technology and weaponry located at the location we were just beamed from. Only hostiles present. Recommend destroying the base immediately."

The General looked for confirmation from the rest of them, and she nodded agreement, as did Teal'c, who was now propping up Daniel.

"You heard the man," the General told Colonel Davidson, and the Colonel turned to Major Marks. "Lock on to the base and fire."

"Firing," Marks responded, then, "Target destroyed."

Everyone on the bridge relaxed a bit in relief.

The General took a closer look at Daniel. "You don't look so hot."

Daniel waved his hand and slurred, "Drugs, torture, you know."

The General started towards him and Sam decided to interrupt. "Teal'c, do you think you and Cam can get him to the sickbay and watch over him?" Watch over his mouth, she meant, which they both would understand. "Vala, you should get your physical, too, and I'll debrief with General O'Neill."

Teal'c hesitated for just a moment, and the General said, "Bra'tac sends his best. Things went ... not terrible." The lilt in his voice said the summit went surprisingly well. "I'll give you all the gossip later."

Teal'c nodded, and Sam watched her team head out to the sickbay.

"So?" the General said with an eyebrow quirk in her direction, and she followed him to the briefing room.

"Good timing on the rescue, sir," she said, as they slid into seats.

He waved it off. "Nice to save the day again. Don't get to do that too often behind the desk—it's good to keep a hand in."

"We were following up on Major Escher's intelligence that Netan had stepped up his plans against the SGC. Well, they had—they were ready to proceed. His second, Karug, was looking for intel on our defense capabilities to make sure that their plan would work before pulling the trigger. When they heard you might attend the Jaffa summit, they actually targeted you, so they could get the full picture of Earth's capabilities."

The General winced, then tapped his temple, where the device had been on Daniel.

"Unfortunately, yes," she confirmed. "They had a memory device similar to the Tok'ra's, plus a powerful disinhibiting drug to keep someone talking. Fortunately Daniel was able to keep talking about anything and everything but your schedule."

"Who knew his ability to yap on would be so useful," the General remarked. Sam couldn't help a small smile.

"Definitely in this case," she conceded.

"Any chance Karug or any of his people escaped?" he added.

"Not likely, sir. No stargate on the planet, and their ship, with its weapons cargo, was docked at the base. If Colonel Davidson didn't see it take off, it's in pieces with the rest of the facility."

"Any more threat?"

She shook her head. "Not from this plan. The payload, the ship, and the intel were all with Karug. This will set Netan back, but he's just going to be that much more desperate after another black eye from us."

"He's gotta run out of lieutenants some day," the General said with a shrug. He started to push his chair back, so Sam stopped him with a gesture. She turned off the room's recording function and hit the switch for fuzzing the security cameras—the protocol for discussing top secret material. The General gave her a questioning look.

"Jack," she said, deliberately, and his eyebrows went higher. She fought down her discomfort with the circumstances. They were on a military ship. She wasn't in uniform, but it was mission undercover gear, and he was in uniform. It was hard to pretend they were in a friend's back yard, or out at a park, or otherwise as off-duty as possible and just the friends that ten years working together made of you. But there wasn't time, so "Jack" was her shortcut.

"Jack," she repeated, and she had his full attention."Daniel was being questioned about you," she started, picking her way carefully through her words. "His defense against giving up the intel was to talk around it, to talk about anything and everything about you except the summit. Everything," she emphasized gently.

His face went blank. "Everything," he said with a terrifyingly false lightness.

"Not ... details. In fact, from what he did say, it seemed that 'details' were something that would happen in the future, after retirement?"

"Must have been an interesting interrogation," he said, still stiff.

She smiled. "Well you should have heard Daniel suggesting that his chances of becoming pregnant should be the topic of Walter's next book."

That surprised a bark of a laugh out of him, and the ease in his shoulders said he finally trusted that she was doing what she could to help.

"The only people still alive who heard are SG-1, and team is team. No one will hear it from any of us."

He studied her face, and finally accepted with a nod her bedrock confidence in all of them. Once again, though, when he went to get up she stopped him, this time with a light touch on his arm.

"Jack," she said, more softly this time. Now she truly was his friend, his and Daniel's. "There's no one in the program who doesn't know how stupid Don't Ask, Don't Tell is. According to the law it doesn't matter whether a person keeps it in his pants or not—being gay in the service is wrong. But if you are, don't tell us and it doesn't matter—just don't get caught."

She patted his arm before she let go and pushed back from the table. "What I'm trying to say is, life is too short and our jobs are too dangerous to sweat the stupid stuff."

Jack looked at her steadily for a while, then nodded and pushed back from the table. "Popsicle? The freezer in the galley has a good supply laid in."

"Blue Raspberry?"

"You know it."

"Sure," she said, and followed him down the corridor.


5. 2012

Jack glanced over at Carter, swathed in lace, while they waited for the final strains of the wedding march to fade. Her face was shining with the kind of joy that usually came from building a new doohickey or flying something at high speed.

Mitchell, to her left, was beaming, too. Jack was feeling pretty warm and fuzzy himself. He'd never thought he'd see the day there'd be someone good enough for Carter, but he had to admit, he approved of the kid. He liked to think Jacob would have, too.

Jack didn't dare look across or he'd spend the rest of his time staring at Daniel, opposite him on Mitchell's side, and miss all the cues. Not that Jack had a lot to do on Carter's side. Vala was the Maid of Honor—dead false gods forbid she not be a center of attention. Her bachelorette party for Sam was already an SGC legend.

Jack knew Vala was also looking forward to clinging to "Muscles" on the way back down the aisle. Although Ishta was here as well, so Vala would only be able to enjoy Teal'c for the short recessional before she was forcibly removed. Jack had no doubt Vala would have a new target toot sweet. There were plenty of Pentagon and Washington power players for her to set her sights on. Jack would let on that her moxie tickled him the day after the world ended, but in the meantime he enjoyed entertainment.


Two hours later Jack was full of cake and just about ready to take off his Class A's, with one more thing left to do. Fortunately things were wrapping up, and Mitchell was taking off Carter's garter. Instead of the traditional backwards toss, though, Mitchell just slingshotted it straight at Daniel, saying with a grin, "Go get 'em, tiger."

And then Daniel was coming towards Jack, gripping the garter and smiling. He slid neatly to a knee and pulled a small box out of his pocket. "Jack O'Neill, will you marry me?"

Jack gaped. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. Finally he turned and barked helplessly, "Carter!"

At least she'd been gaping, too. But years of discipline paid off—as soon as she heard his voice, she fired her bouquet at him like Fran Tarkenton, a squawk of protest from Vala in the background.

Jack felt a little manic, clutching the bouquet in one hand and scrambling in his pocket with the other. He fell to one knee, opposite Daniel, thrusting out his own ring box. "I got new knees for this, you bastard," he grumbled.

"Not the traditional response," Daniel drawled, "but I'll just ... translate." And then they were both cracking up, leaning forward into each other, too overcome by the absurdity of the situation to even be able to kiss.

Jack could hear their friends laughing as well, Carter and Mitchell already playfully squabbling about how their secret plans had messed up the surprise. Teal'c was smiling on his way over with Ishta to help them up, and, okay, yep, Ishta was plenty strong enough to haul a grown man off the ground. Vala was bouncing and clapping, and talking about getting to plan another wedding and, whoa, that was not happening.

Friends from Cheyenne Mountain and Homeworld were grinning. He was sure not everyone here had known he and Daniel were together, but they did know them, so the positive response was pretty sweet. He noticed Davis, off to the side, taking in everyone's reaction, so he'd get a report later if it looked like there'd be any trouble.

Meanwhile, it was time to get a proper kiss from his fiancé. "By the way, my answer's yes," he whispered, and watched Daniel's face light up before bringing their mouths together in their first public kiss.

"Not just a bridesmaid anymore, sir!" Carter called out, setting off another round of laughter and cheers.


+1. 2015


The End of Don't Ask Don't Tell: The Untold Story

The reveal of the Stargate Program has been the news of the year—the news of the millennium: It has dominated the media for months. Emmett Bregman's documentary has topped the box office for twelve weeks. SG-1 was chosen as Time Magazine's Men and Women of the Year.

It's been a big story in the LGBT press, too. Major General Jack O'Neill created a small stir three years ago when he became the highest ranking officer in the US military to marry a same-sex partner, Smithsonian antiquities consultant Dr. Daniel Jackson.

The story became much bigger when the world discovered that Dr. Jackson opened the Stargate and that he and then-Colonel O'Neill went on the first mission through, beginning an intergalactic career that included saving the planet on numerous occasions.

What hasn't been covered is the very active role the Stargate Program and General O'Neill had in ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. Advocate editors had the opportunity to sit down with General O'Neill and Dr. Jackson, and ask about their history with the military's stance on gays.

Advocate: General O'Neill—

JO: Jack.

Advocate: Jack, you were born in 1952 in the Midwest, and went to Vietnam when you were just 18. What was it like being gay in the military in that era?

JO: The Pentagon called homosexuality a "moral defect" at the time—but, hey, the church did, too, so it wasn't like anyone in Minnesota was out and proud. I wasn't. I didn't have to be. What's my whatsit, Daniel?

DJ: Jack's a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey Scale.

JO: I always get that backwards. Anyway, yeah, I had crushes on guys, a lot of crushes on guys. But I liked girls, too, and I dated them, so I just went along with that. There were some guys in Vietnam who you knew were gay. It didn't actually get you out of the draft back then and I think they just thought, "Screw it, I'll just be who I am." If you wanted to be career Air Force, though, you kept it under wraps. I wanted to be an officer—come back and go to the Air Force Academy. I knew not to do anything but talk about girls, especially after Leonard Matlovich.

Leonard Matlovich was the Air Force Technical Sergeant who came out in 1974 as a test case on the ban on gays in the military. His story made the cover of Time magazine. His base commander gave him an honorable discharge rather than the less than honorable discharge that was recommended. When Matlovich sued for reinstatement the judge agreed, but the Air Force indicated they would just find some other reason to discharge him and he took a settlement from them instead.

JO: The Air Force really went after him—this was a guy with three tours in Vietnam, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star. He was running one of the best race relations programs in the service. You learned from that, nobody was safe, nobody was untouchable. I felt like what I was doing in my career was more important than making some statement that wouldn't change anything other than getting me tossed out.

Advocate: Let's fast forward to the Stargate Program. By the time it started up, Don't Ask, Don't Tell was law. Did DADT have any influence on the program?

DJ: Jack can maybe speak from the military point of view, but I was coming at it as an anthropologist-slash-de facto alien diplomat. The military does a very good job of training its members into a routine, an orderly way to survive and excel in combat situations—and that keeps troops alive. But that kind of ... narrowing things down doesn't work so well in non-combat mission situations. It's been noted before that the SGC is a brass-heavy organization—and there are no privates or airmen straight out of boot camp. Officers receive education in decision-making, history, ethics. Still, unless an officer specifically studied Anthropology, it wasn't the kind of breadth they'd need to deal with what we were running into out there—

JO: He'll get to the point, someday, really.

DJ: There is a point. After a few situations teams ran into off world, I was able to convince General Hammond to institute a sort of Anthro 101 program to get them thinking beyond their assumptions. Maybe the leadership on a planet is the strongest person. Or maybe the strong are just the grunts. Maybe leadership is by the women. Or the men. Or by group consensus. Maybe gender and roles and biological sex and sexuality are defined and linked, or maybe they're not. For some aliens, we might not even be able to identify sex or gender. Maybe families are polygamous. Or polyandrous. The Jaffa culture, as just one example, has no concept of sexual fidelity. Marriage entails property and child rearing, and often love and affection, but sex with another opposite- or same-sex partner isn't given a second thought. And once the troops wrap their heads around some of the most intense warriors they've ever seen also having no issue with gay sex, it changes things.

JO: Sometimes.

DJ: True. There were some guys who became more homophobic and xenophobic, and they had to go. General Hammond instituted pretty early on psychological screening for the program, on top of just recommendations. And treatment of gays or perceived gays was another litmus test; he was able to use DADT to his advantage—he just refused to ever ask. Word spread pretty quick that he was not only firm on "don't pursue," but that he was more likely to investigate anyone who was trying to report someone as gay. Not that he wasn't a Methodist from the South with his own beliefs, but he knew that his command wasn't one where people could be applying their world view to others. He was one of the officers who pushed the Pentagon hard to get "don't harrass" added to the law in 2000. He argued that it was a hell of a lot harder on "morale, good order, discipline, and unit cohesion" [ed. the law's stated reasons against homosexuality in the services] to have a good airman bashed bloody in the back of the showers than to get rid of troublemakers like that.

Advocate: So there were incidents at the SGC?

JO: One.

DJ: The General hunted down every person involved and they spent time in Leavenworth. It became pretty clear after that that this was not the kind of command where there was any kind of blind eye or tacit approval.

Advocate: It sounds like the SGC was a good posting for a gay person in the military back then.

JO: Sure, if you didn't mind risking getting fried by a staff weapon. But it wasn't like you could be out, out. We still had to follow the letter of the law. And there were plenty of COs at other postings who felt the same way. It was luck of the draw whether a gay serviceman ended up someplace where people were fine with it or where they'd get hounded out.

DJ: The SGC in some ways may have been more difficult, because as open-minded as the base leadership was, Colorado Springs is pretty conservative. The evangelical Christian community has a lot of sway, especially at the [Air Force] Academy.

Advocate: Is it easier for you to be out in Washington DC than Colorado Springs?

JO: It's easier to be out with DADT gone, period. Daniel's my husband and I'll walk down the street holding his hand in DC or Colorado Springs or Peoria. I don't give a crap what anyone thinks.

Advocate: Let's talk about the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I understand you had some influence on it.

JO: Like Daniel said, General Hammond worked hard to get Don't Harrass added to the law. He had a lot of people's respect at the Pentagon as well as the President's ear, so what he had to say couldn't get dismissed out of hand. By the time he left for Homeworld Security and stuck me with herding the cats at the SGC [ed. 2004], DADT was becoming even more of an issue with the program. The Russian military had just rescinded their law against gays in the military, so I was getting grief from the Russians about what would happen if they stationed any gay personnel on their SGC team. I'm an old Cold Warrior, and let me tell you, it stuck in my craw to see the Russians get ahead of us on this. We were also setting up for the Atlantis Expedition, which was international, and the US was the only country with an anti-gay military law. We had to guarantee to other countries that US forces wouldn't mess with their personnel. We pushed a little harder, though, and got the Pentagon to agree to Atlantis as a test case where DADT wouldn't be enforced for US servicemembers either. We still didn't have personnel flying rainbow flags, because you never knew if you were going to get transferred elsewhere, but it was pretty clear that for the Atlantis mission sexuality was a non-issue, or you'd hear about it if you tried to make it one.

Advocate: And did the experience in the Atlantis test case help with the decision?

JO: It helped the President, sure, and anyone at the Pentagon who had clearance to know about the program. The rest of the military and a few old hard-liners had to just put up with the repeal and wait and see.

Advocate: And the sky didn't fall.

DJ: No. It's no big deal for most of the kids joining these days. It's still not perfect. Until there's national recognition of gay marriage there will be military spouses who don't get support and benefits, that sort of thing. There's still a lot of inequities, the same ones civilian lesbians and gays face. But some of the other ways lives were impacted, that's better now.

Advocate: Like what, for example.

JO: Like a kid being able to have a picture of his boyfriend or her girlfriend with them. Letting the CO know to contact them if anything happened. These troops put their lives on the line and they had to be cut off completely from their loved ones.

DJ: Jack didn't even tell me how he felt until after the second time I descended, and even then he wouldn't act on it. How many people in the service never got a chance at love because the military kept them in the closet?

Advocate: Have the two of you, personally, had any problems as being two leaders of the program and also an out gay couple?

JO: There were a couple of people at the Pentagon, and a few people in Congress, who gave me the cold shoulder when Daniel and I got married. Not people I wanted to play bridge with anyway, but it made it harder to get things done. That's mostly passed. They may not approve, still, but work is work.

DJ: It's been more of an issue with the general public. I'm sure you've seen the comments on the web. Oddly, the military's been far more supportive. Similar, I think, to desegregation, when mixed-race units in a way forced soldiers to face their prejudices and get over them. A civilian not under orders is able to hang on to their prejudices as long as they want to—and they do want to. It's understandable. Learning that we're not alone in the universe and that there are wonders and terrors out there is a frightening thing. Some people are going to cling even harder to religion or whatever they need to in order to cope. In the face of those wonders and terrors, though, I think worrying about who's sleeping with whom is pretty small potatoes.

JO: My thought exactly. Well, as long as you're sleeping with me.

DJ: Yes, Jack.

JO: Well all right, then.