Former Marine responds to destruction of billboard - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former Marine responds to destruction of billboard

The billboard Smith appears on. The billboard Smith appears on.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tim Smith received a good conduct medal during his four-year stint as a U.S. Marine.  Now, he's at the center of an international billboard scandal.

"It felt like somebody had violated the honor and commitment that we as military veterans feel about our service," Smith said in an interview Monday.

A shredded billboard along Poplar in Memphis used to show Smith saluting in full uniform with the quote, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom."

Smith said he received an honorable discharge from the Marines after a local military minister outed him when he refused to go to a change ministry.  Smith says the billboard gives a voice to diversity.

"All my brothers and sisters in uniform who are part of the gay community who aren't able to speak for themselves," he said.

Smith's billboard on Poplar, which now shows an old advertisement beneath it, is one of five billboards between downtown and East Memphis that highlight National Coming Out Day October 11th.

"I think now the community has been shocked, but shocked into further action," he said.

A unity rally is in the works, and investigators were on scene Monday looking for witnesses or any video surveillance that may have caught the vandals in action.

Smith was not discouraged.

"The billboards will be put back up," he said.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center has not yet set time and location for this weekend's unity rally.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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