Atlanta vets celebrate end of ‘Don’t Ask’ [photos]

Add this share

image

VIEW MORE PHOTOS | ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Retreat Ceremony @ Piedmont Park

imageSeveral gay veterans – including two who served in World War II – joined a crowd of about 200 people in Piedmont Park on Monday to celebrate the end to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prohibition on openly gay soldiers.

The emotional “Retreat Ceremony,” which sometimes channeled the lingering resentment left in the wake of 18 years of the military ban, was organized by American Veterans for Equal Rights. The organization is led by Danny Ingram (top photo right), a longtime Atlanta resident who was one of the first gay people booted from the military under DADT after President Clinton signed it into law in 1993. Ingram was one of a handful of gay veterans from Atlanta who were on hand last December when President Obama signed legislation repealing the ban. The policy officially ended on Tuesday – after 14,346 men and women were discharged under it.

image“I actually never thought I’d live this long to see the day,” Jack Strouss (second photo), a gay World War II veteran, told the crowd in Piedmont on Monday. “Good riddance.”

Obama said Tuesday that he was proud to repeal the military ban.

“As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love,” Obama says. “As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.”

imageAmong the nearly two-dozen veterans attending Monday’s ceremony in Piedmont was Jeff Cleghorn, an attorney and veteran who has helped fight the ban and lobbied for its repeal. Cleghorn joined Ingram at the White House signing in December and organized an Atlanta event a month earlier that raised about $30,000 to fund repeal efforts. Cleghorn hosts a DADT Repeal Day event on Tuesday.

The event in Piedmont included performances by OurSong and Atlanta Freedom Bands. An honor guard of gay and transgender veterans helped lower and remove the American flag from the veteran’s marker at the park, which sits near the 12th Street entrance.

THE LATEST

Project Q Atlanta goes on hiatus after 14 years

On Sept. 1, 2008, Project Q Atlanta promised a hyper-local “queer media diet” for Atlanta. The site set out to bring LGBTQ news, in-depth...

Photos catch Purple Dress Run invading Midtown

After three years of pandemic-inflicted limitations, Atlanta’s gay rugby squad let loose on one of its most popular events. The Atlanta Bucks Purple Dress...

Ooo Bearracuda: Photos from Bear Pride’s Main Event

The seventh annual Atlanta Bear Pride hit the ground running on Friday with packed houses at Woofs, Heretic and Future. Turned out, they hadn’t...

Atlanta Bear Pride set to go hard and long all weekend

That low, growing growl you hear is a nation of gay bears headed for Atlanta Bear Pride this weekend. By the time they arrive,...

PHOTOS: Armorettes bring back Easter Drag Race magic

Gay Atlanta’s queens of do-good drag brought the sunshine to a cloudy afternoon on Saturday when Heretic hosted the triumphant return of Armorettes Easter...
17,446FansLike
7,001FollowersFollow
7,682FollowersFollow

PHOTO GALLERIES