In 2002, David Hall was discharged from the U.S. Air Force for being gay under now extinct Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Now, Hall, who serves as OutServe-SLDN's development director and information technology manager, has been named as one of eight Americans as “citizen co-chairs," where he'll watch President Obama get sworn in at the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C. on Jan. 28.
“This is certainly the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to President Obama for his leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so that no qualified American who wants to serve this country in uniform will ever again be denied that right simply because they are gay or lesbian,” Hall said.
The former Airman penned a letter to Obama dated May 13, 2010, in which he questioned the commander-in-chief: "How many more careers will be ruined before we see repeal?"
He ended his message poignantly, saying, "I assure you I am fit for military duty and so are the 66,000 lesbian and gay service members currently serving. Please keep your promise and stop discharging patriotic Americans. I did my part; now, sir, please do yours!"
See a photo of David Hall below, courtesy of OutServe-SLDN, then scroll down to keep reading:
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed on September 20, 2011.
“There is a great deal more to do on the road to full LGBT equality in our military, but it’s important for us to take a moment this weekend to honor the leadership of this President and recognize just how far we have come," said Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson. "There could be no better personification of that than former Air Force Sergeant David Hall."
Marissa Gaeta And Citlalic Snell Claim A Navy Tradition
Dubbed <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/12/a-public-embrace-between-two-female-sailors-from-california-is-being-hailed-as-the-kiss-heard-round-the-world-by-activists-wh.html">“the kiss heard ‘round the world,”</a> two female sailors, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell locked lips in Virginia, Beach, VA last December. Gaeta won the coveted and traditional Navy "first kiss" after spending $50 on raffle tickets. Navy officials say it is the first time a gay couple has won the "first kiss" raffle. “It's nice to be able to be myself. It's been a long time coming," said Gaeta, who had just returned from an 80 day assignment in Central America.
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/dont-ask-dont-tell-study_n_1868892.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">first academic study</a> of the military’s post-DADT, open-service policy shows that there are no detrimental effects regarding the repeal. Published by the Palm Center, a research branch of the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School, the study comes almost one year after DADT ending.
Randy Phillips Comes Out On YouTube
Immediately after the repeal, then 21-year-old Randy Phillips, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, captured everyone’s attention by taping his <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVAgz6iyK6A&list=UUFC8Uw64ucDytNm04K60K4w&index=41&feature=plcp">coming out to his father</a> and placing it on Youtube. Phillips’s video went viral and has over 6 million views to date. Later, the young soldier <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/29/airman-comes-out-to-mother_n_988047.html">came out to his mother in a similar fashion</a>.
Gay Military Organization Celebrates Repeal
<a href="http://outserve.org">OutServe</a>, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, hosted its first <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/16/outserve-summit-ends-with_n_1014265.html">Armed Services Leadership Summit</a> one month after DADT’s repeal. The keynote speaker, Douglas Wilson, assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the highest-ranking openly gay official in Pentagon history, summed up everyone’s thoughts by saying, “This is freaking amazing.”
First Gay Civil Union Ceremony On A Military Base
Tech Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his partner, airman Will Behrens, were the first same-sex couple to have a <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_wedding/2012/07/erwynn_umali_and_will_behrens_the_first_gay_wedding_on_a_military_base_.html">civil union on an American military base</a> in New Jersey, where gay marriage is not legal. The ceremony, which took place in front of 150 friends and family, was held on Umali’s home station, McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Openly Gay Soldiers March At San Diego Gay Pride
This July was the first time gay active servicemen and women marched in uniform in a <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/22/local/la-me-gay-military-20120722">Pride parade</a>, after the Department of Defense allowed the city of San Diego the honor. The celebration drew in an estimated 200,000 attendees who cheered LGBT personnel from different military branches. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYtILoMz_e4">Click here to watch a video with interviews with the participants</a>.
A Gay Military Proposal
When Navy veteran, Cory Huston, dropped to one knee and asked his boyfriend, U.S. Marine Avarice Guerrero, to marry him, they became the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/gay-marine-marriage-proposal-military-base_n_1460179.html">first gay couple to get engaged on a military base</a>. Guerrero returned from deployment and was greeted by Huston at San Diego’s Camp Pendleton, where family and friends watched the joyous occasion.
Stephen Hill Gets Booed
When <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/22/republican-debate-dadt-repeal-rick-santorum_n_977105.html">Stephen Hill</a>, an American soldier in Iraq, asked Rick Santorum if he’d “circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military,” the crowd booed Hill. The incident occurred at the Republican presidential primaries in Florida soon after the repeal of DADT. President Obama chastised the GOP candidates for not saying anything to the crowd <a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/10/02/obama-blasts-republicans-for-silence-after-gay-soldier-booed-during-debate/">when he spoke at the HRC’s annual national dinner</a> and proclaimed that a commander-in-chief must support all military personnel -- gay or straight.
Social Networks Go Crazy Over Gay Soldier Kiss
Perhaps the most <a href="http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2012/02/marine-partner-reflect-on-gay-kiss-seen-around-the-globe-the-world-went-away-for-a-few-minutes.html">memorable gay military kiss</a>, with a picture that garnered 37,000 Facebook “likes,” shared online and on news outlets everywhere, Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan jumped into his boyfriend’s arms (Dalan Wells), wrapped his legs around Wells’s body, and kissed him. Morgan returned from Afghanistan to Hawaii and said, “The world went away for a few minutes.”
Right at the stroke of midnight on Sept. 20, 2011, Navy Lt. Gary Ross <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-wedding_n_971128.html#s366377&title=Gays_in_Military">wed his partner</a>, Dan Swezy, in Vermont just as the repeal of DADT became official. The couple had been together for 11 years and traveled all the way from Arizona to get married in the first state to allow same-sex civil unions.
Tammy Smith Becomes First Openly Gay General
Just last month, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/tammy-smith-first-openly-gay-general_n_1771605.html">Tammy Smith</a> became the first openly gay general officer. Because of DADT’s repeal, Smith can serve without worrying about dismissal based on her sexual orientation.
Support From Panetta
Defense Secretary <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/leon-panetta-gay-troops-pride-month-dadt_n_1599642.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular">Leon Panetta saluted gay soldiers</a>, saying, “Now you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are.” Panetta’s statement came just before the Pentagon’s gay pride celebration in June.
Gay Pride At The Pentagon
LGBT troops gathered in June for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/30/pentagon-gay-pride-us-troops_n_1639658.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular"> Pride celebration hosted by the Pentagon</a>. This was the first time such an event occurred, where gay soldiers (former and current) could be in uniform and openly talk about their pre- and post-DADT experiences with government officials.
A Holiday Engagement To Remember
Getting home for the holidays got even better for a lesbian solider whose <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/lesbian-soldier-engagement-leave_n_1195057.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">girlfriend proposed to her</a>. The heart-warming moment was captured on video and was set to Chester See’s “You’re Beautiful.”
Veterans Day 2011
Last year’s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/12/veterans-day-2011-dont-ask-dont-tell_n_1090053.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">Veterans Day</a> was the first since DADT’s repeal. Cities across the nation honored those who have served with heartfelt tributes.
Gay Military Students Enjoy New Benefits
Graduation season took on new meaning for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/military-gay-students-graduation_n_1548880.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">gay students at our nation’s military service academies</a>. LGBT students celebrated their pomp and circumstance openly for the first time and have enjoyed various other benefits (clubs for gay students and the ability to take their same-sex partners to dances) since the repeal of DADT.
HRC Celebrates Repeal
Last year’s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/01/dadt-repealed-gay-servicemembers-uniform_n_990550.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">HRC fundraising dinner</a> saw gay servicemen and women in uniform for the first time, something that could not have happened with DADT in place. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said, “It warms my heart, and I'm so proud of them, and thank them so much for their service to our country."
A Soldier Reenlists
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/lee-reinhart-chicago-vete_n_1030624.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">Lee Reinhart</a> was dismissed from service under DADT but became Illinois’ first openly gay man to reenlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) administered the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-24/news/ct-met-dont-ask-dont-tell-1024-20111024_1_lee-reinhart-gay-veteran-sexual-orientation">soldier’s oath</a> in front of a crowd in Chicago’s Center on Halsted, a community resources center for LGBT people.
U.S. Marine Corps Leader Supports Gay Personnel
Late August saw the head of the U.S. Marine Corps, <a href="http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/08/28/top-u-s-marine-openly-gay-servicemembers-not-an-issue/">James Amos</a>, who first opposed the repeal of DADT, say openly gay servicemembers haven’t been an issue. Amos said, “I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out. I’m very proud of the Marines.”
McCain Backs Repeal
Presidential hopeful John McCain said he would <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47149.html"> support the repeal of DADT</a> in January, after initially opposing Obama’s decision. McCain said, “I’ve got to do whatever I can to help the men and women who are serving, particularly in combat, cope with this situation.”
DNC Platform Clearly States Position For Marriage Equality
The <a href="http://assets.dstatic.org/dnc-platform/2012-National-Platform.pdf">2012 DNC platform</a> states, “We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples,” in its “Protecting Rights and Freedoms” section. This written statement comes after Obama’s announcement that he supports marriage equality in May.
RNC Platform Shows Some Progress
In its corresponding <a href="http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/">2012 platform</a>, the RNC says they will continue to defend DOMA. But the platform also states (perhaps in regards to the repeal of DADT), “We will support an objective and open-minded review of the current Administration’s management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action.”
Gay Military Couples Sue Federal Government
Although the repeal of DADT was a joyous occasion, gay military couples still do not have benefits equal to those of their straight colleagues because of the Defense Of Marriage Act, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage at a federal level. The <a href="http://www.sldn.org">Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, along with several gay military families, </a> filed a lawsuit <a href="http://www.advocate.com/news/daily-news/2011/10/27/gay-service-members-sue-equal-benefits">against the federal government</a> just one month after the historic repeal to secure equal benefits.
Romantic Reunion At Sea
After six months at sea, gay U.S. Navy sailor Trent was greeted with a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/us-seaman-romantic-reunion-uss-carl-vinson_n_1542457.html?utm_hp_ref=dont-ask-dont-tell">passionate kiss from his boyfriend</a>, Lee, at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.
A Pinning Worth Remembering
Last December, Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace (right) was promoted in a <a href="http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66924">customary pinning ceremony</a>, where her partner, Kathy Knopf, had the honor of being by Wallace's side. This is believed to be the first time a same-sex couple participated in such a celebration since DADT's expungement.