Saturday, May 25, 2013
Gay Alaskan Soldiers Can Now Serve Openly
Tuesday marked the official repeal of the Don't Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which forced military personnel to hide their sexuality for nearly two decades.
For the first time in U.S. history, openly gay men and women can now serve in the military.
Since 1993, the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy has required service members to hide their sexual orientation, but now the policy is officially over.
Congress repealed DADT last December, and President Obama signed the certification of the repeal back in July.
The law, however, didn’t go into effect until a 60-day waiting period passed. Since then, military branches across the country have been preparing for the transition.
So far, 2.2 million military personnel have been training for the repeal, including soldiers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The Pentagon says 97 percent of the U.S military has undergone training as part of the new law.
“We went through different levels of training that included computer-based training, in-class training,” said Maj. Guy Hayes, spokesman for the Alaska National Guard.
The military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits, but qualifications to serve will still remain the same.
“Sexual orientation does not matter. We’re looking for professionals, qualified candidates-we’re going to treat everybody with dignity and respect,” said Hayes.
Guard officials say there won’t be any significant changes moving forward.
“We’re just going to continue what we do everyday and that’s defend Alaska and protect the United States,” he said.