Local vet: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' eases daily fear - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local vet: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' eases daily fear

Posted:

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (WDRB Fox 41) --  Gay men and woman now can serve openly in the military, with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

President Obama signed the repeal Wednesday.  It will take the Pentagon weeks, if not months, to implement the change in policy.

One Louisville gay veteran recalled the ever-present fear that threatened to overshadow his service.

He says he's not alone in hiding one's sexual orientation or face dismissal from the military.

"I was proud to serve in the military, even though I had those feelings of being gay. I didn't act upon it," said Daniel Coe.

Coe remembers staying focused on his communications job during his four years in the Air Force in the mid-1970s.  He was stationed at Warner-Robins AFB in Georgia.

He also remembers a military with no tolerance of anyone gay -- or of anyone with even the slightest hint or suspicion thereof.  It was taboo.

"Not that I did a lot of things that people could've pointed and said, 'Hey he's gay,' but it was something that you kept in the back of your mind all the time. Don't give them a reason to throw you out.  It plays on your psyche somewhat where you watch your actions."

Coe believes that fear will subside for current and future U.S. service members, now that the president has signed into law the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The news brought him to tears.

"I think it is very commendable for him to actually get this done once and for all.  It's a great day."

Coe counsels people with HIV and AIDS and is active in gay rights issues in Louisville.

He predicts gay service members will not suddenly become flamboyant or pushy about their new status.

Coe also noted President Obama's re-enlistment overture to the 13,500 service members dismissed since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" took effect in 1993.

"Their being gay is not going to affect how they act in any situation, be it combat or duties at home. They can do their job just as well as any heterosexual person can," Coe said.

Coe added critics of gays in the military will not keep silent.  Perhaps they don't see the repeal as ending a long-time "injustice" that's comparable to moves that further opened the armed services to blacks and women.

However, Coe said, they no longer will have federal law to back them up.

They argue the repeal will hurt combat readiness for troops, especially those in tight-knit infantry units.

 

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.