Over the weekend, while we were celebrating our co-founder’s birthday with tons of fun and cajun-boiled crawfish, lesbian widow Tracy Dice Johnson made an announcement at the American Military Partner Association’s inaugural National Gala Dinner that the LGBT community could rejoice over, even in the midst of tragedy. Johnson proclaimed on May 17th 2014, that she will now be receiving full death benefits, two years after her wife, soldier Donna Johnson, had been killed while serving in Afghanistan. While Johnson had never been denied her well-deserved rights as Donna Johnson’s wife, she had applied twice to be granted death benefits, only to be told that her request was still being reviewed. Finally, the Department of Veteran Affairs can be applauded, simply for doing the right thing.
Army National Guard Staff Sgt., Donna Johnson, was killed in October of 2012 during a suicide bombing while deployed in Afghanistan. The couple had just married on Valentines Day of 2012 and are said to be the first lesbian, married couple to endure a casualty since the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy.
While the incident is terribly tragic, there is still hope resting in Johnson’s story– and not just for her, but for the LGBT community as well. By awarding same-sex married couples equal benefits, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Military are proving to be taking steps in the right direction, showcasing equality and acceptance amongst the soldiers that pridefully serve our country.
Tracy Dice Johnson is set to not only receive medical, education, and other benefits, but the VA have also decided to, “retroactively recognize [Johnson],” dating back to the death of the fallen soldier.
The decision to grant Johnson benefits by the Department of Veteran Affairs is especially important to the LGBT equality movement. And the goal is to continue racking up these types of victories. We hope that these significant steps continue to be taken and further recognized, especially in settings (like the military) known for dishing a fair share of unethical behavior and unfairness regarding the LGBT community. On a more positive note, however, we see the changes and we’re proud that those changes are slowly, but surely being implemented with equality in mind for our community. We wish the Johnson family nothing but comfort, peace, and success during this victorious and monumental moment.