DENVER -- Four veterans who served together in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm are now joining together in another fight -- to extend the right to marry to gays and lesbians in Colorado.
They are the faces of a new TV ad, airing in Denver all this week, from the group Why Marriage Matters Colorado, which is pushing to increase public support for full marriaje equality.
Sgt. Ashley Metcalf, who hid is sexual orientation while serving in the military, makes things plain in the ad: "I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm gay, these guys are straight," he says, surrounded by his three comrades.
"We're all veterans and we've all served our country."
Sgt. Izzy Abbass, who served alongside Metcalf and appears with him in the ad, never thought about serving alongside gays in the military while he was in the trenches, only after Don't Ask, Don't Tell became law toward the end of his time on active duty.
"Only later did he tell us the stories, how he couldn't be fully open with everyone about who he was and how he felt, that was kind of a big shock for me," Abbass said.
In the ad, Abbass makes a simple argument -- that gays deserve the same freedom to marry that heterosexual couples enjoy, a freedom they all fought to protect.
"We fought for everyone's rights, not just a small select group," Abbass told FOX31 Denver this week.
One Colorado, one of the organizations behind the Why Marriage Matters Colorado effort, hopes the ad will continue an ongoing conversation and a rapid shift in public opinion, with a majority of Coloradans and the country already supporting gay marriage.
"Public support for the freedom to marry is on the rise in every part of the state," said One Colorado's Dave Montez this week.
"We hope the story of loyalty and respect will resonate not only with other service members, but also with people in every corner of this state, who will really understand that gay men and women are really just trying to take care of one another and protect their families," Montez said.
"All they really want is the freedom to marry the person they love."
The ads hit the airwaves just as the Denver-based U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing oral arguments in two lawsuits related to gay marriage bans that have been struck down in Utah and Oklahoma.
Two lawsuits challenging Colorado's ban on gay marriage have been filed but court dates have not yet been set.