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Joe Tom Easley, Gay Rights Activist, Dies at 81

Joe Tom Easley, gay rights activist and attorney who worked to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and 2003 gay union wedding first published in The New York Times, passed away on February 13 at a hospital in Miami Beach. He was 81 years old.

Easley’s husband, Peter Freiberg, said the cause was complications from lung disease.

Mr. Easley, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, spent years fighting to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” enacted in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and allowing his allies service in the military. on condition that they keep their sexuality a secret. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the contract.

Mr Easley served as president of the Military Legal Defense Network, a group that seeks to end discrimination against gay servicemen and abolish the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Joe Tom Easley was born on September 28, 1940, in Robstown, Texas, for Tom Lee Easley and former Lady Hampton. He grew up in Truby, Texas in the 1940s and 50s, when coming out as gay was no longer the norm.

In 1966, when he was captured in the Vietnam War, Mr. Easley decided to join the Navy, where he served at an intelligence base on Adak Island in Alaska. After a year, he learned that a friend who had offered him sex before he joined the service had told the government he was gay, Mr. Freiberg said.

According to Mr. Freiberg, Mr. Easley’s commander told him he had to kick him out because gays were barred from serving, but that “for his exemplary service” he would make sure that Mr. Easley received honorary discharge and veteran benefits. .

A graduate of Texas A&M, Mr. Easley received a law degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in public health from Yale.

Mr. Freiberg said that despite being nearly 38 years old, he has managed to make up for lost time in his gay activism by using his skills as a speaker and teacher. member and a leader.

After working in Europe for three years for a consumer watchdog that investigated drug companies’ price fixing, Mr. Easley moved to Washington, DC, where he lived in the late 1970s and early 80s, according to her husband.

Initially, Mr. Easley was hired as a law professor at American University. After graduating in 1978, he was appointed as an associate dean in addition to teaching duties. He was later a professor at Antioch Law School, where he served as a counselor for a group of LGBT students.

He also became president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, a gay political organization in the Washington area.

Mr. Easley eventually left Washington for New York, when he met Mr. Freiberg and he continued his advocacy work.

From 1983 to 1987, Mr. Easley was president of the Lambda Legitimacy Defense and Education Foundation, an LGBT group. He later served as president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Vic Basile, the former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in an email that Mr Easley was “instrumental in shaping the goal of electing pro-LGBT candidates to Congress”.

On August 24, 2003, less than a year after Daniel Andrew Gross and Steven Goldstein became the first same-sex couple notification of their civil union was featured in The New York Times, the marriage of Mr Easley and Mr. Freiberg, at Toronto City Hall, as featured in the newspaper’s wedding pages.

Mr. Freiberg, Mr. Easley’s only immediate survivor, is described in the announcement as a freelance writer and editor. Mr. Easley is described as a lecturer for BAR-BRI Bar Review, a firm that prepares prospective attorneys for bar exams.

Two years later, Mr. Easley gained national attention when he appeared in a front page article in The Times about funding an Iraqi boy who suffered burns and blindness in one eye after stepping on a bomb. Mr. Easley worked for more than a year to bring the boy to the US for treatment.

He compiled a list of eye surgeons and dermatologists to treat the boy for free.

“People ask me why this boy, why help him, when there are so many others who are having a harder time,” Mr Easley said in an interview at the time. “I told them, well, I don’t know about the other boys. But I know about Ayad. “

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/us/joe-tom-easley-dead.html Joe Tom Easley, Gay Rights Activist, Dies at 81

Fry Electronics Team

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