Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell As proud as we as Americans are of our country and our military, from time to time, it's easy to get discouraged or disgraced by inequalities driven by pure prejudice. Like same-sex marriage being a huge political battle. Or military spouses who happen to be gay being unable to get the same death benefits as hetero spouses. But recently, we've taken steps as a country to progress, to be better as a nation. One of the most recent: For the first time ever, a veteran's same-sex partner is due for burial in a national cemetery.
Nancy Lynchild, who died in December after a 12-year battle with breast cancer, will be buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon. And someday, her partner who she married in Canada in 2010, a retired Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell, will have her ashes buried alongside Lynchild's. It's a small but very significant move that was a long time coming.
Campbell had been making a play for Lynchild to be buried at Willamette for some time and finally got her wish when Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, signed a waiver, according to the The Oregonian.
The waiver was necessary because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, bars same-sex couples like Campbell and Lynchild from military benefits like health care, housing allowances and on-base housing, and burial benefits.
With hope, though, this waiver -- along with how outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta instructed the service branches to extend additional military benefits, like emergency leave, commissary privileges, joint duty assignments, transportation, disability and death payments, and child care, etc. to same-sex partners -- is a sign that we may not be 100 percent there yet. But we're on our way.
Check out this video, produced jointly by Basic Rights Oregon and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which has been working with Linda Campbell since last spring to get a waiver to the VA's policy prohibiting burials of same-sex couples in national cemeteries.
How do you feel about Campbell's story? Does it give you hope that we're on our way to a more equal country?
Image via Basic Rights Oregon & the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries/Vimeo