Some expelled gays want to re-enlist in military

Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:57pm EST
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By Chris Michaud and Aman Ali

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Some plan to re-enlist. Others want to turn to the fight for same-sex marriage. Still more will celebrate a triumph of civil rights.

But for many of those kicked out of the U.S. military for serving while openly gay or being "outted" as gay, Wednesday's repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy means more than a political victory. They say it will strengthen the armed forces.

The policy led to more than 13,000 discharges since it was instituted 17 years ago, including 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists the Pentagon fired between 2003 to 2008 while the U.S. fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Service Members Legal Defense Network.

"A house divided against itself was what we were living under. There's really only one enemy, and that's the one we're fighting against -- not each other," said Jonathan Hopkins, who was discharged from the Army in August after serving nine years.

Hopkins, 32, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where cadets live by an honor code: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

After President Barack Obama signed the law in Wednesday's ceremony, he and others kicked out of the service are celebrating an end to the lying, especially in cases where soldiers could not fully grieve the death of lovers killed in battle.

"I didn't have relationships of consequence, I was so paranoid. Then when I was outted, everyone said we already figured you were gay anyway, and everyone told me it didn't matter, you were the best commander we ever had," Hopkins said.

Former Army Lt. Dan Choi, 29, was an Arabic linguist, and he was discharged last year after coming out during a television interview. Wednesday he planned to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to retrieve his West Point graduation ring.   Continued...