Mark Bingham

By now, many of us have heard of Mark Bingham. He was one of the passengers on United Flight 93, the hijacked airliner that was crashed in a wooded area of Pennsylvania last Tuesday.

We have been soaking up details from the media coverage in our grief, trying to gain some sense of control in relationship to this event which has shown us how little control we may have over our destinies. A really unAmerican idea.

We take extra interest in the few who seemed to take some of the control back last Tuesday, on the one flight that crashed in an unpopulated area.

We know about Mark Bingham’s last minute phone call to his mother.

We know that he was a rugby player, and a public relations executive.

And as details come together, we know he looks like part of a group of passengers that may have successfully kept the plane from hitting its target in DC.

What most of us do not know unless we read the gay press is that Mark Bingham was an out gay man.

You also might not know that Jerry Fallwell, speaking on the 700 Club last week, said about gays and lesbians–along with feminists and abortionists, “I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.”

Mark Bingham, from every report and tribute, sounds like a stand-up guy. The kind of good-hearted and courageous person you want on your team.

Mark Bingham may have saved the White House. And may even receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But he could not have served in the military. If he were one of us rather than one of the passengers on flight 93, he could not donate blood nor be conscripted should it come to that.

We’ve each got our own mental picture of what the moment of crisis looked like on flight 93. The scene makes it pretty clear that the passengers who attacked their captors had more pressing matters on their minds than Mark Bingham’s sexual orientation. Why does this country not yet understand that this would not be any different in war. The U.S. remains one of only two NATO members that keeps gays and lesbians from honestly serving their country.

Some may say that it’s irrelevant the sexuality of this man, hero or not. And that there’s no point in my bringing it up. Mark’s sexuality should be irrelevant, but to the U.S. Military it’s not.

September 11th changes everything, why not the status of gays in the military? Now, more than ever, we need Mark Binghams.

Maybe one thing we’ll learn from this tragedy, whether it’s from the terrorists or the Mark Binghams, is that it’s what you do, not who you are that counts.