During the same week the Pentagon discharges a decorated Arabic linguist under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Obama Administration sends mixed signals on the future of the failed policy, another openly gay and highly decorated Iraqi War veteran is running for Congress and brings a unique perspective to the debate on gays in the military.
Twenty-eight-year-old West Point graduate Anthony Woods led two combat units in Iraq and received a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government before being discharged for being coming out as gay. Woods is running in a special election in California's 10th Congressional District where he grew up. Daily Kos calls Woods "a rising young progressive star", and, if elected, he would become the first black openly gay representative in Congress. The Washington Blade:
Woods said his personal belief system prompted him to disclose that he
is gay to his commanding officer last summer, during his sixth year in
the military and shortly after he completed his studies at the Kennedy
School under an Army educational program. The disclosure triggered an
investigation by the Army that led to his honorable discharge last
The discharge came nearly four years after Woods completed his first tour of duty in Iraq as a second lieutenant in charge of a 17-member combat unit from 2004 to 2005 for which he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal. He led a 64-soldier combat unit on his second tour in Iraq from 2005 to 2006. The Army awarded him a Bronze Star for his service on that tour.
“I loved my career in the military and I was really looking forward to continuing that career,” Woods said. “But my time at Harvard provided me an opportunity to recognize and to fully come to terms with who I was. I started to realize that it is not at all worth going back to a life of lies and being dishonest to my commanders, to my soldiers, to my peers. It was something I was no longer willing to do and something I don’t think other members of the LGBT community who serve in the military should do.”
The seat for California’s 10th will become vacant later this month when Rep. Ellen Tauscher resigns to become the Obama Administration's Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. The East Bay district has a solid Democratic majority and Tauscher has been one of the strongest supporter of LGBT rights in Congress. Tauscher has been the leader on repealing the military's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The special election is slated for September or October. Woods is a considered a strong candidate and is his military knowledge is key in CA-10 where military veterans are a significant number of residents. The district includes Travis Air Force Base.
AFTER THE JUMP, watch Anthony Woods' campaign video.