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Leonard Matlovich on the cover of Time magazine, 8 September 1975

Matlovich's grave in the District of Columbia's Congressional Cemetery

Leonard Matlovich
Leonard at Affirmation's 1979 Russian River Retreat

Leonard P. Matlovich (1943 - 1988)

(From Affinity, September 1988, p. 5.)

Leonard Matlovich was born July 6, 1943. A well-known national gay rights advocate, Leonard died of complications related to AIDS in San Francisco on Wednesday, June 22, 1988.

Leonard became nationally known as an openly gay sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He sued the Air Force and won after he was discharged for being a gay man.

Leonard's famous motto was, "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one." This is inscribed on his tombstone in the National Cemetery, Washington, DC, where he was interred.

Just prior to his death, Leonard was active in gaining support for a monument n Washington, DC, similar to others commemorating war heroes, dedicated to all gays and lesbians who had given their lives in service to their country. His picture appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. He was well know across the country in his fight for civil rights legislation and against AIDS. Leonard was the guest speaker for many gay and lesbian events across the country.

In 1979 Leonard participated in a retreat that Affirmation members had in the Russian River, and in 1987 he spoke before Affirmation's San Francisco Chapter.

He understood particularly the agony many of us face trying to reconcile our sexual orientation and our faith.

Burial place: Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.


From Find a Grave.com:

Technical Sergeant, US Air Force, Veteran of the Vietnam War. A proud, gay veteran, he challenged the US Air Force policy on automatically discharging homosexual service members as "unfit for military service." His most famous quote: "They gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one."

In 1975, T/Sgt Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War with 15 years of service, openly announced his sexual preference, and challenged the US Air Forces' policy of automatically discharging homosexuals. The Air Force promptly discharged him anyway. In 1980, he successfully sued the Air Force for reinstatement, and the court ordered the Air Force to allow him to rejoin the Air Force. However, he settled for a one time payment of $160,000 from the Air Force, and did not retire. The case ruling allowed homosexuals to remain in the military as long as they abstained from any form of sexual activity and kept "in the closet."

Later, he lived in San Francisco, California, and became active in the Gay Rights movement. His court case was made into a TV-Movie "Sergeant Matlovich vs. the US Air Force" and was telecast on 21 August 1978.


See also:

www.leonardmatlovich.com

Sgt. Leonard P. Matlovich: Patriot, Mormon, and Activist

Leonard Matlovich Makes Time

Affinity, September 1988, p. 5.

Additional panels in Leonard's memory can be seen at the AIDS Memorial Quilt


Please add your own tribute by sending an email to James Kent.