September 20, 2011 marked the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. President Obama kept his campaign promise to repeal this piece of legislation that prohibited gay members of the military from being themselves. Juan (pictured left), an Obama for America Regional Field Organizer in Los Angeles, recently spoke with Charles (right), a gay service member and a new volunteer in his neighborhood, about the President’s historical action.
Charles joined the military in 1990, three years before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was implemented. As a gay service member, Charles had to hide his true identity from his peers for 19 long years. In 2007, when then Senator Barack Obama announced that if elected as President he would repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Charles instantly stood behind the Senator.
“That speech was one of my primary reasons for supporting the President. I was hoping it would come to fruition and it did. I am very happy it was a promise that was kept.”
Charles was grateful that the President kept his promise to repeal DADT. He believes the repeal will do more than just improve the military and the lives of gay service members; it will promote a greater acceptance of the gay community across the country.
“I certainly think the repeal is indeed an advancement in civil rights and I appreciate the President treating it as a civil rights issue. I think that [the repeal of] DADT will set an example for the rest of the country on tolerance and equal rights for all Americans.”
When asked what moments stick out the most to him since the repeal, Charles remembers the President’s reaction to the booing of a gay serviceman during a recent Republican debate.
“I think the President’s response was the most touching and meaningful I’ve heard from him. The President said, ‘when you are President of the United States you are the Commander in Chief of all of the military. You don’t choose specific members to protect. You protect and empower all of the men and women who defend this country regardless of their personal interests.’ That meant a lot to me."
Charles was surprised that none of the Republican candidates defended the serviceman.
“It showed that they, unlike President Obama, may not be willing to be the Commander in Chief of every soldier. And that’s disheartening. But it also means that I am going to do everything I can to re-elect President Barack Obama.”
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