This Army Veteran Wants Liberty for All

Matt Thebarge • Bloomsburg

Matt Thebarge is a dad and Army veteran from Bloomsburg. Matt has a four year-old son and although he is straight, he believes strongly in nondiscrimination protections based that protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In part, his belief in fairness is rooted in his experience in the military, where he was deployed overseas, in Afghanistan.

“One of our goals was to fight for a society with equal rights for all in education and equal opportunities there. I want those same equal rights to exist here in my community of Bloomsburg, and I want them for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Matt says.

PA_ThebargeUnfortunately, Matt has seen discrimination play out in his life. While he was in the Army, he saw a good friend whose career was cut short, not because he failed to perform his duties, but simply because he was gay.

“He lost his promising military career and any future opportunities to better his life because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Matt said.

And while that policy is no longer in place, Matt says he doesn’t want that kind of discrimination in his community or his state. But, right now, a gay or transgender person in Pennsylvania could be fired from their job, just like Matt’s friend was kicked out of the Army, just for being themselves.

Ultimately, for Matt, it comes down to the world he wants his son to grow up in.

“As a father,” he says, “I want my son to grow up in a community where he knows that all are welcome, that all have value, and that he will be accepted by everyone that shares these same values.”

Summing up his feelings on what it means to advocate against discrimination, Matt said “Finally, I want my service to this country to be defined by the establishment of liberty for all, not liberty for some.”

We’re grateful to Matt for his service to our country, for sharing his story with us, and for standing up for what he believes in.