When Marissa Gaeta stepped off the USS Oak Hill after a three-month deployment and gave her girlfriend the "first kiss", it was just one example of the "exemplary progress" the US military has made in "modernizing its culture," declares the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. But while the gay homecoming kiss is a "milepost," Danny Chen’s death illustrates the “long road” that remains ahead. Chen, a 19-year-old Chinese-American, appears to have committed suicide after allegedly being taunted and hazed over his ethnicity.
His death proves that racism, sexism, and homophobia have yet to be eradicated from the military, though the subsequent speedy charging of eight soldiers implicated in it was a good move on the part of the Army. Its zero-tolerance policy toward racism is a good start, but more must be done. "It takes strong leadership to educate and sensitize young and often unworldly soldiers about the level of respect that all their fellow soldiers are due," the Times continues. If that leadership can step up to the plate, "diversity in the military can become a non-issue in the years ahead." (Read more Danny Chen stories.)