by Bree Abel
Yesterday evening, the Associated Press reported that the United States military is accepting openly gay recruits for the first time in our nation's history, following an order from the Pentagon. (Read the story here.)
While the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell hasn't come to a vote in the House, a California court ruling last week led to the Pentagon's request that recruiters begin accepting gays and lesbians, beginning yesterday.
The AP also reports that two soldiers discharged from the military for being gay are trying to re-enlist.
"Gay people have been fighting for equality in the military since the 1960s," said Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, a think tank on gays and the military at the University of California Santa Barbara. "It took a lot to get to this day."
The Defense Department has said it would comply with [Judge Virginia] Phillips' order and had frozen any discharge cases. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said recruiters had been given top-level guidance to accept applicants who say they are gay.
AP interviews found some recruiters following the order and others saying they had not heard of the announcement.
Gay rights groups were continuing to tell service members to avoid revealing that they are gay, fearing they could find themselves in trouble should the law be reinstated.
The U.S. military denied enlistment to gays until Don't Ask passed under President Clinton in 1993, while 29 other nations, "including Israel, Canada, Germany and Sweden, allow openly gay troops, according to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group and plaintiff" in the California lawsuit.