Roberta is a retired Navy nurse who spent 22 years caring for the men and women of the armed forces. For 8 months during Desert Storm, she served aboard the Hospital Ship Mercy -- a great honor and an experience that affirmed her decision to join the Navy as one of the best of her life.
Just like Roberta when she served, many gay service members are currently deployed in harm's way. If they are injured or killed, their spouses would not be notified of their injuries or death or be allowed to claim their bodies or receive the respect and benefits other slain service members' spouses receive.
Roberta shared her story with members of the Senate Executive Committee, hoping that they would understand her unique experience as a veteran and act quickly to extend the freedom to marry to couples like her and Coleen:
"I was not treated as equal when I served my country for 22 years, because Coleen was not recognized as my spouse. Even with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' gay service members are still not equal because they can't be married...Can we ask more people like me to serve their country and then treat them like second class citizens? They swear the same oath, wear the same uniform, bleed the same color red, and love and die just like anyone else."
It's time that the laws of our state and country honor Roberta's 22 years of service -- by affirming, recognizing, and protecting the love and commitment she's shared with Coleen these past 19 years.