In West Hollywood, a celebration of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" took place on Tuesday night, in which some 100 people cheered the start of gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military.
"I never thought I'd see this day," Tom Carpenter, board member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and retired U.S. Marine captain, told the crowd. "It's a watershed day for the military."
Carpenter predicted that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military will be a "non-event," and soldiers will continue with their jobs with no problems.
The retired Marine noted that the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may be a "tipping point" for full equality for gays and lesbians in this country.
Carpenter added, "Today is the first day someone could say they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual and not worry about being thrown into prison and thrown out of the military."
Lambda Legal staff attorney Peter Renn said the repeal wasn't merely a political win for Democrats or the gay rights movement. "It's a victory for everybody who believes in fairness and equality," he said.
U.S. Navy veteran Lee Walkup noted that the gay rights movement must remain vigilant: "We need to remind ourselves that there's still a lot of work to do."
He added that the federal ban on gay marriage, called the Defense of Marriage Act, still needs to be repealed and transgender folks still can't serve in the military.
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With that call for more action, the crowd left West Hollywood Park and marched up Santa Monica Boulevard, waving rainbow and American flags. Drivers passing by honked their horns in support.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.