Local Reaction to End of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Policy
An 18-year ban on gays and lesbians openly serving in the U.S. military ends today as the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy is officially repealed, and local veterans are speaking out on the change.
Jesse grimes, a former firefighter for the U.S. Air Force, says he knew he could always count on his fellow airmen, including one who is gay. That airman couldn't say anything about his sexual orientation. Grimes knew the truth, but didn't care.
"Didn't so much bother me as long as they could end up pulling me out of a fire if I needed them to, so if they could do their job, it doesn't matter," says Grimes.
Now, gays in the military don't have to hide their sexuality as the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy is officially repealed, and some are happy about that.
"I really don't feel like it's appropriate to tell people what they can and can't do," says Gloria Bishop.
"If they want to serve or do anything else, there's nothing, to me there's no conflict," says Yuri Reyes.
Veteran Jonathon Reed, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, weighed in on our Facebook page and writes: Having served in both sand pits, it really doesn't matter.. the homosexuals that are currently serving are likely to be the most "stood up for."
One veteran who didn't want to appear on camera says he didn't have a problem with gays serving in the military, as long as they didn't show any inappropriate behavior.
"It's no different than a college dorm, have fun, do what's appropriate, and don't get in trouble," says Grimes.
An Army recruiter in Kennewick says it's too early to tell how the change in policy will impact their recruiting efforts.
"I can't speculate what difference it'll have, now that it's been instituted," says Sgt. First Class Chris Franz.
As for Jesse Grimes, the gay firefighter he served with, has become a close family friend.
"Him and my wife and me, go camping, go fishing. not a problem with him whatsoever, he's just one of my good friends," he says.
Major Margaret Witt of Spokane says she hopes the repeal of the law will prompt gay service members to stand a little taller. Witt spent seven years fighting the military's ban on gays and lesbians.
Last year, a federal judge found her dismissal unconstitutional and she retired in May with a full military pension.