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End Of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Arrives With Little Fanfare

By Alison St John

Aired 9/20/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Today is the first day of a new era for gays in the military: They are free to speak openly about their sexual orientation without fear of being discharged.

Transcript

Aired 9/20/11 on KPBS News.

Today is the first day of a new era for gays in the military: They are free to speak openly about their sexual orientation without fear of being discharged.

For an emotionally charged controversy that has resulted in 13,000 people losing their jobs in the military, the end of don’t ask don’t tell has arrived with little drama.

Lt. Col. Arthur Woods is Deputy Assistant Chief Recruiter of the Marine Corps' Western Region. He said recruiters have never asked about sexual orientation and they won’t start now. The difference, he said, is what happens if a potential recruit volunteers the information.

”If the young man or young lady says, ‘I’m a homosexual,’ - ‘OK, very well!” he said.

Woods said the Marine Corps has conducted trainings to get everyone attuned to the new policy.

The end of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' could lead to an increase in the numbers applying to join the Marine Corps.

Woods says recruitment goals are still high: between 16,000 and 18,000 new Marines this year in the Western Region of the United States. That’s about the same as last year. The total force of the Marine Corps rose to 202,000 but it will fall to 187,000 once the draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan is underway.

Woods added it is becoming more competitive to become a Marine, as jobs in the civilian world remain scarce.

Captain April Heinz is a member of San Diego’s gay community who retired in 2005 after 23 years in the Navy. She said the end of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' is not like a revolution, because when it came down to it, there was not that much to overcome.

Video

Soldier Tells Dad He’s Gay On YouTube

Above: With those three emotion-drenched words, a 21-year-old U.S. soldier stationed in Germany reveals in a phone call to his father in Alabama what he had long kept secret but could now finally share with Tuesday’s official repeal of the military’s 17-year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy…(Read more from Home Post Blog)

“I think also that the time between the President signing the bill in December and now has given people a lot of time to think about it,” she said. "And to go through whatever process they need to in their own mind to move on.“

Heinz is a board member of the Service members’ Legal Defense Network, which fought many legal battles for gay service members during the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ years. The end of that era is arriving without fanfare, she said.

“The people you are working next to yesterday are the same people you are going to be working with today," she said. "The only difference is, now people can talk openly about their lives without fear of losing their jobs. That openness will lead to better understanding by all members of the military and better morale, not less.”

There will be a celebration from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight at the LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest to mark the beginning of their freedom to serve openly.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 20, 2011 at 8:32 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

An anonymous marine interviewed yesterday on TV said it wasn't the government's business then and it isn't now. He further added that there is no need to even bring it up at work. If only the militant demogogues paid attention to his words.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 20, 2011 at 2:23 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

This was way over due. Try to imagine how difficult it would be not to bring up something like this at work. Eventually, through casual conversation, through invitations to various events people are going to wonder why you never have a date or why you don't talk about your girl, or guy. Right? Elementary dear Watson.

Mission Accomplished!

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Avatar for user 'Pondering1'

Pondering1 | September 23, 2011 at 12:26 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't understand why people must announce their sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, etc...). This is a private matter and the workplace (military or civilian) is not the place. Please explain.

I don't support the LGBT lifestyle, but I do agree that all workplaces (military or civilian) must maintain a professional and respectful environment.

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Avatar for user 'mapplebe'

mapplebe | September 23, 2011 at 3:27 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

To those who don't understand, who think that someone's sexual orientation should be easy to hide, just imagine living in a society where giving the impression of having *any* loving relationship would be grounds to get fired. Yes, of course, don't bring up sexual activity at work, but imagine a workplace where no body was allowed to mention that they even had a spouse or significant other, ever. And remember this isn't a nine-to-five for a lot of service members, who live on base or are deployed. LGBT service members get to have a real life now, and can focus on staying alive and getting the job done while they are in harms-way for us, instead of fearing that we will wring them out for their personal lives.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 25, 2011 at 10:40 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't know about you, Shinsky, but I don't go around telling fellow coworkers my life's story and that anonymous marine on TV was absolutely right.

It's such a paradox, that in a society where "privacy" is such a sacred cow--compared to other cultures/societies--a militant minority is hell-bent on revealing such personal information to the Four Winds.

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