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

By Alison St John

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

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.

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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.

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