Allow Retired Navy Captain Joan Darrah to Speak!
  • Petitioned Governor Bob McDonnell

This petition was delivered to:

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell

Allow Retired Navy Captain Joan Darrah to Speak!

    1. Petition by


Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has denied a request by retired Navy Captain Joan Darrah to speak to the national Republican Party platform committee in support of the freedom to marry.  

On Thursday, August 9, Darrah wrote a letter to McDonnell, chair of the national Republican Party platform committee, asking to address the committee in support of the freedom to marry and the recognition of all marriages when it meets in Tampa, Florida. CAPT Joan Darrah, USN (Ret) requested to share the couple’s personal story and illustrate to the committee how its support for marriage equality is in keeping with the ideology of the GOP.

“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. 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 said.

Darrah served nearly three decades in the U.S. Navy, including under the now-repealed discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law. On September 11, 2001, at 8:30 a.m., she attended a meeting in the Pentagon, leaving the meeting promptly at 9:30 a.m. At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon and destroyed the exact space she had been less than eight minutes earlier, killing seven of her colleagues.

“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. Fortunately, because DADT has been repealed, gay and lesbian service members can now serve openly without the fear of discharge,” Darrah wrote in the letter.

Darrah and her wife, Lynne Kennedy, are plaintiffs in McLaughlin v. Panetta, a case in which SLDN represents eight married gay and lesbian service member and veteran couples seeking the same recognition, supports, and benefits as their straight, married colleagues. Even now with DADT off the books, DOMA and other federal laws prevent the military from treating all service members, veterans, and their families the same. This includes denial of health care, death benefits, and burial in national cemeteries.

“Gay and lesbian service members and their families are making the same sacrifices daily as their heterosexual counterparts. Should they not be afforded the same recognition, benefits, and support services from the country they serve? Should they not receive the same support from their “military family?” asked Darrah in her letter.

Sign the petition today calling Governor McDonnell to sacrifice 20 minutes of their meeting - just a minute for each year of Captain Darrah's service to our nation.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 200 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Bryana Saldana ORLANDO, FL
      • about 2 years ago

      Because I am going to be an openly gay servicemember and for her to speak on behalf of the past current and future servicemembers will be the greatest oppurtunity ever given.

    • Miriam Ben-Shalom MILWAUKEE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      The true Conservative wishes for less goverment in one's life: Allow this hero to speak!! Otherwise, you are being beyond hypocritical.

    • Lika Saliscente RACINE, WI
      • about 2 years ago

      A service person and their family is just that. I don't understand why we discriminate against same sex couples. It's NOT the government or the Military's job. Please offer the benefits.

    • Thomas Stigar OCEAN VIEW, HI
      • about 2 years ago

      Because I hope to see this happen in my lifetime for my husband and I and to support our military service members.

    • Peter Casanave BROOKLYN, NY
      • about 2 years ago

      I am signing for my married friends. Ellie and Nomi, whose wedding I attended thirty years after they were guests at my own wedding. Also my cousins, Annette and Eve and my friends Paul and Thad. Their marriages deserve legal standing and the privileges in taxes and inheritance that are taken for granted by "traditional" married couples.


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