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Gay military ban ends | Politics

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Gay military ban ends
Politics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- More than 17 years after a ban on openly gay U.S. service members was implemented, "don't ask, don't tell" has been lifted.

The policy that allowed gays to serve only so long as they kept their sexual orientation private was first implemented by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Since then it's been the source of a cultural battle between conservatives and liberals. 

Catherine Crisp with the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR) says this is an historic moment for the entire nation.

"This is a policy that never should have happened," says Crisp.

Crisp's partner of 17 years served in the Army and they both experienced first-hand the effects of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"We had to spend a lot of time just disclosing and hiding who we were," Crisp says. "It affected all aspects of our life. It affected where we went to the grocery store, our spirituality, who our friends were. This is not a trivial policy by any means. It's something that had a widespread impact for all service members."

Not everyone is celebrating the lifting of the ban. Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee, is concerned about military effectiveness now that soldiers can openly declare their sexual orientation.

"The military does no operate like civilian life," says Cox. "Their job is to fight and win wars. I think it's an unnecessary distraction for our country at a time when we're trying to fight a war. The military is not a democracy."

The advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network estimates that about 14,000 men and women have been  discharged from service under "don't ask, don't tell". They will now be allowed to re-enlist. 

CAR, HRC, and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will be holding a celebration of the repeal tonight (Sept. 20) from 6-9 p.m. at 800 Scott Street in Little Rock. You are asked to RSVP via their facebook page.

Politics