Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The 17-year-old law that banned openly gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from military service is coming to an end.
Enactment of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is this Tuesday and military personnel, both gay and straight are speaking out.
“From World War I, World War II, my whole family was all military,” said Sabastian Garsnett.
Garsnett did just what the other men in his family have done for generations — he joined the Army right out of high school.
He served proudly and in silence for two years, until the secret behind his sexuality was revealed.
“My roommate in the barracks used my computer, saw a conversation that I had with someone in a chat room. It was obviously a gay chat room and reported it to our commander,” Garsnett said.
Two weeks later, the Army started the process that led to his dismissal.
Garsnett wanted to be a career military man, but because he is gay, that was not possible.
That was eight years ago. Now, the controversial policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), will allow military personnel like him to fight on, no matter what their sexual orientation.
“There were definitely people that I knew were gay in the military and they did their job just like anybody else,” said Army veteran Roger Smith.
Smith is a decorated Army veteran from the first Gulf War.
“This one is a Purple Heart, this one is a Silver Star,” Smith said pointing to his medals.
Smith, who is straight, said DADT is like an obstacle that should not have been there in the first place. Now that it is going away, Smith says it’s not good or bad, it’s just gone.
“Nothing is going to change. These gay soldiers are going to wake up tomorrow and still be soldiers because that’s the bottom line,” Smith said.
On Sept. 20, service members will no longer have to hide who they are in order to serve.
For the past 60 days, the military has trained close to 2 million active duty and reserve service men and women for the end of the policy.