Politics

Woman who fights DADT for 18 years sees ban overturned

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The legal ban on gays serving openly in the military is a thing of the past. President Barack Obama called it a good day for America as he repealed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

A Bay Area resident who was at the president's side as he signed the historic legislation, Zoe Dunning, calls it a dream come true. She stood beside the president and beamed as he repealed the policy that Dunning has been fighting against for more than decade.

A hero's welcome was given for the president as he fulfilled a major campaign promise.

"I am just overwhelmed. This is a very good day and I want to thank all of you, especially the people on this stage," said Obama.

As he sat down to sign the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," he motioned for Dunning to stand next to him. She is a retired Navy commander and San Francisco resident.

"It was surreal. It was amazing to think that I was you know just three feet away from the president as he signed a bill repealing a law that I've been fighting for 18 years," said Dunning.

Ever since she came out in 1993, Dunning has battled "don't ask, don't tell" in the courts and in the court of public opinion, raising money and awareness. For her this moment was particularly sweet.

"Through these 18 years of ups and downs, you always have to have a vision, you have to have hope to keep you going and I think in my mind's eye I always had this vision of being there when the president repeals this bill and so for that dream to actually come true is larger than life," said Dunning.

But outside the Marines Memorial Hotel in San Francisco, former active duty Marine Bill Poloa isn't happy about the repeal.

"I think every service man out there do have it in the back of their mind. They all think about this and the longer it goes on, the more they think about it," said Poloa.

It'll increase pressure on the troops says Poloa. The head of the Marines Memorial is retired Major General Mike Mayatt.

"I think there was some concerns about the rush to do this because I don't think we've thought though a lot of the social issues, the housing issues, and so forth like that," said Mayatt.

Myatt said that may make implementation a little complicated, but the president has said the change will come in months, not years and Mayatt says the corps will lead.

"I think you'll see the Marine corps will implement it with as much or more enthusiasm than anybody else, now that it's law and that's' the way Marines operate," said Mayatt.

The Secretary of Defense and the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs must certify that the new policy will not hinder troops. Both have publicly said as much.

Once all of the signatures are in place, there will be a 60-day waiting period before the repeal goes into effect.

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Tags:
don't ask don't tell, military, barack obama, politics, mark matthews
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