Tri-State reacts to repeal of 'Don't ask, Don't tell'

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The impact of 'don't ask, don't tell' is already making an impact in the Tri-State as recruiters change their policies for enlistment and the gay community celebrates the step toward equal rights.

"If someone gave their sexual preference out to us [before the repeal] we were not allowed to enlist them at that time," Marine recruiter Kenneth Jacob explained. "But as of now that's all out the window."

"Coming out, the benefits far outweigh the negatives," argued Xavier professor Steve Yandell, faculty advisor for the campus LGBT group Alliance. "The idea of not having to hide, or lie, or live a double life are so freeing that people, the country as a whole are just tired of that kind of deception."

Even though his dad was a military man, Yandell never felt like it was an option for him because he was gay.

"Fortunately I think this means that service members simply don't have the fear of being kicked out for something that has nothing to do with their performance in the job," Yandell said.

"I find the most highly qualified men and women to put into the United States Marine Corp," Jacob said.  "Doesn't matter sexual preference."

As an advocate for equal rights, Yandell knows the fight is not over.

"I think we're going to find that bigotry remains in the same way racism exists, sexism exists, heterosexism exists," he said.

For Kenneth Jacob though, there is not any room for grey area, an order is an order including the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'.

"We're United States Marines so we take that step in a forward direction and we don't mess around," Jacob said. "We get the job done."

For many in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community the real change will not come with a uniform, but from the acceptance that grows within the men and women who wear them.

"One of the important things to remember is that laws can be made and repealed all of the time," Xavier Alliance president Carlos Garcia said. "If we want to make change we have to make change within ourselves and with others."

"As a human species we will continue to find ways where there are differences and we don't like each other," Yandell acknowledged. "But we'll move forward as well so I feel ultimately very optimistic."

Despite the repeal, many believe it is up to individual service members to decide whether or not to share their sexual preference.

"That's ultimately a private decision I think," Yandell said.

"I personally think more identification of people in the military of people who identify with LGBT would be excellent, however, it is an individual choice," agreed Garcia.

"You don't have to say anything about your sexual preference in any nature," Jacob said. "And we're not going to ask you about it."

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