As a member of the United States Coast Guard, John Fiorentine was charged with defending our country from those would seek to do us harm. However during his tenure, John said that he was unable to be his true self and live as a gay man. Only while stationed outside the U.S. did John finally begin to contemplate his feelings. During this time, the military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still in place, banning open service for gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers; and John said he was careful about disclosing his identity. When the Trump administration in 2017 introduced a new policy seeking to prohibit open military service for transgender people, John spoke out about the similarities between these two discriminatory policies.
“Whether the rationale for discrimination is unit cohesion or religious freedom, we can neither rest on our achievements nor sacrifice the liberty we are all worthy of for the success of only some of us. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was repealed not just because it was bad law…it was repealed because a movement demanded the repeal of a bad law. We all deserve to pursue happiness free of discrimination and must demand equality. If we don’t take care of our own, no one else will. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.”