“Lt. Moira Reilly reporting as ordered, Sirs, Ma'am.”She emphasized 'Moira' as she snapped a clean salute to the General behind the desk and nodded at the two civilians.
“Excuse me, Lieutenant, but aren’t we being a bit premature?”The woman smiled politely but her tone was a bit curt.
“I’m sorry Ma’am, but I don’t follow you?”
“That’ll be enough, Lieutenant.” The General shook his head and glared.
“It’s been established, as far as we can read the rulings and so forth that the military has seen fit to include personnel of same sex orientation. It has not, I emphasize the word ‘yet’, been established that transgender personnel are included. Do you understand, Lieutenant?”The man sitting next to the major tilted his head as if he were interviewing someone for a job. That wasn’t far off, since in effect, the man was seeking to exclude the Lieutenant from military service.
“I see you received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in service in Afghanistan. My gratitude for your service, soldier. We have several men and women who are alive thanks to your valor.” The General smiled warmly but sighed.
“Still, we have you before this panel today to discuss your defense of your and personnel of like 'persuasion' and their continued service in the United States Military. The Congressman and the Senator both are here for a preliminary interview before the committee up at Capitol Hill rakes you over the proverbial coals.” The man next to the General frowned while the woman covered her face to hide her smile.
“We’re concerned that this may set a precedent, which in turn may lead to a really nasty battle on the Senate Floor,” the woman said.
“I respect that, Ma’am.” Reilly nodded and looked over to the Congressman, who was now glowering.
“While we can all thank the Lieutenant for his service….” He turned to see the Senator frowning and quickly added, “I’m sorry, Doris, but it’s yet to be established just what gender the Lieutenant is, from my understanding.”
“You’d understand, wrong, Congressman Stevens,” the General said abruptly with as much respect as he could muster.
“Lieutenant Reilly is seven months past her surgery, as her medical records will attest!”
“That’s …Gender Reassignment Surgery? Elective…Did the Army pay for this?” The Congressman shook his head.
“Begging your pardon, Sir, but no, it did not.” The Lieutenant said politely.
“It’s referred to by physicians in the field as Gender Confirmation Surgery, Charlie…get with the program. She's already served with distinction. We need women like her in the service.” The Congresswoman said, nearly missing the irony of her statement.
“Listen…I’m just trying to understand. Studies have shown that performance levels are likely to drop significantly during the personnel’s recovery; hindering their ability to serve.
“You might find that to be true of a soldier or a sailor with an appendectomy, but we don’t insist they leave the service, Charlie,” she shook her head.
“What about morale?”
“What about it, Congressman?” The General turned and faced him.
“We’ve already determined after a lot of debate and studies, that so-called ‘gay’ servicemen and women will not serve to the detriment of morale. Other countries have allowed gay personnel for years without any problem," the General stated.
“The idea that a transgender experience renders someone incapable of serving in the military is the same as disqualifying someone who experienced any emotional upheaval like divorce or another life-altering experience,” the Senator said.
"It’s really covert discrimination couched in terms of what’s ‘best’ for the personnel. I seem to remember you staying on in your district despite your divorce, Charlie. Come on.”
“Serving in Congress is completely different than serving in a combat zone, Doris.”
“Your constituents might argue that point,”she laughed, but the Congressman remained adamant.
“I understand your concern, General. And Lieutenant Reilly, I’m very grateful for your service, but at this juncture, it’s my determination to report to the committee that they continue the restrictions in place with a moratorium until such time as more data can be gathered. I’m not convinced one way or another, mind you, but I just can’t in all good conscience make any other recommendation at this time. I hope you understand?”
“Yes, Sir.” Lieutenant Reilly nodded and smiled weakly. “I serve at the pleasure of the United States Government in general and the President of the United States as well. I thank you for your time, Sirs and Ma’am,”she sighed as the two men got up and shook hands.
“Wish you’d think this over, Congressman…I think you’re making a big mistake….in not wanting to make a mistake at all. But thank you for your time, Sir.” The General shook his hand again and he departed. Turning to the Senator, the General smiled.
“Well, Doris…we tried…we really did.” General Mark Sheridan stepped closer to the table and grabbed her hand.
“I hope we can make dinner next Thursday, my dear.” He kissed her hand and then her cheek. Senator Doris Reilly-Sheridan smiled back and nodded.
“Should be okay unless the budget hearings go over, hon.” She arose and walked to Moira Reilly, her only child and shook her hand.
“Thank you, Ma’am.”Her face was stoic, but for the barely noticeable chewing of her lip.
“I’m so proud of you. Hang in there, sweetie…we’ll get this done yet…I promise.”She kissed her daughter on the cheek before hugging Mark.
“Take care of her, hon…okay?”
She grabbed her purse and walked out the door. Moira turned to the General and nodded.
“Thank you, Sir!”A smile slowly crossed the Lieutenant’s face.
“No, Soldier,” He answered with a smile and a crisp salute.
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