Retired naval officer calls for gay marriage in GOP platform

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Joan Darrah and Lynne Kennedy

A retired Navy captain is asking Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to support adding marriage equality to the GOP platform. McDonnell chairs the committee that will propose a platform at the national convention in Tampa later this month.

Retired Navy Capt. Joan Darrah, in a letter to McDonnell, said the freedom to marry is in keeping with the party’s ideology.

“If given the opportunity, we will testify in support of the inclusion in the Republican platform of both the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the right of same-gender couples to marry and for those marriages to be recognized by our federal government,” Darrah wrote. “Quite simply, these objectives correspond with the ideals of the Republican Party – opposition to government intrusion in people’s lives and a modern military that supports all service members and their families.”

Darrah served nearly two decades in the U.S. Navy, including under the now-repealed discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

She narrowly escaped the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. She attended a meeting at the Pentagon at 8:30 a.m. and left at 9:30 a.m., seven minutes before American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building.

“Whenever I recount the events of that day, I think of my wife and how she would have been one of the last people to know that I had been killed, because nowhere in my paperwork or emergency contact information had I dared to list her name,” Darrah wrote to the governor. “Fortunately, because DADT has been repealed, gay and lesbian servicemembers can now serve openly without the fear of discharge.”

Darrah and wife Lynne Kennedy are plaintiffs in McLaughlin v. Panetta, a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act filed by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

A spokesman for the governor said that Darrah, who had asked to testify before the platform committee in Tampa, will not have such an opportunity but that she could submit her statement to www.gopplatform2012.com.

Another couple involved in the suit, Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan and wife Karen, testified in July before a committee preparing the Democratic platform.