Posted: Sep 20, 2011 10:24 PM by John Romero
Updated: Sep 21, 2011 5:56 AM
As of midnight Tuesday morning, the military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is officially gone. Now gays can openly serve in the military without fear of being removed from service. "It was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform. We are better than that." said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen in a press conference.
Air Force Major Jeff Mueller originally spoke to us about being gay in the military in April. At the time he had to conceal his identity. But now, that's not the case anymore. As a gay man, this Major says it's been a difficult decade. He says It all started the first day he officially joined the military. "I had to sign the piece of paper that said, you know about the homosexual conduct, and all of that stuff with the Don't Ask Don't Tell rules." he explains, "I was signing that as a 19 year old going, what am I getting in to?"
He tells us he's proud to serve his country just as his father did. But the obstacles during the Don't Ask, Don't Tell era were many. "You do a lot of changing of pronouns. You do a lot of skirting questions. You do a lot of not getting engaged in conversations." he explains, "You hear from a lot of people that it's almost a double life."
Now Mueller says he and others can finally be themselves. "There will be a whole range of people... The people that want to come out and the people that still don't want to tell anybody. But now they have the choice. They know they can't get fired for it anymore." he says, "It's really a big weight lifted off our shoulders. We can start becoming more social. And as Admiral Mullen put it, we don't have to compromise our integrity anymore."
But most importantly, the Major can go back to just being a serviceman. "We're all professionals. None of that is going to change no matter is you're gay, straight or whatever you are." he says, "Today just allows us to be ourselves. We're going to contribute to be the professional members of the military that we always have been and always will be."