Monday, March 19 , 2018, 11:48 am | Fair 59º


Local News

Locals Sound Off on Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Pacific Pride Foundation hails the decision as a victory for the gay community

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation that had been in place for nearly two decades, and Noozhawk checked in with a few locals for reaction on the decision.

Though the signing won’t immediately signal the repeal, it will initiate the chain of events needed to end the ban on gays openly serving in the military.

David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation, said the repeal represents a significant triumph for the gay community.

“It took far too long to repeal this discriminatory policy,” Selberg said. “The LGBT community is pleased that the majority of Congress did the right thing after the Department of Defense conclusionary study was completed earlier this month.”

He added that he was pleased that “at least 10 Republican senators crossed over the aisle and voted for equality.”

“The LGBT community and allies now have to remain steadfast in fighting for marriage equality, repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, enacting the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act and other fundamental civil rights issues,” Selberg said.

Lt. Anne Bloezinski, chief of media operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, said the repeal is still at the policy level, and that local effects from the decision haven’t yet come to pass.

She said once the law moves past the policy stage, it will become about educating and informing at the local level. Unsure of the time line for that to happen, she said, “we’re watching the news just like everyone else.”

Bloezinski referred Noozhawk to the national branch of the Air Force, which had not yet issued a news release on the decision. A release was issued earlier this year from Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Roy, who briefed airmen on a study that looked at the implications of repealing the legislation, the results of which were submitted earlier this month.

“Be assured, no matter what the results, Air Force standards of conduct will continue to be applied consistently across the force,” the statement read. “As always, we are grateful for your work, and thankful for our supportive families who sacrifice daily, and who so selflessly give of themselves to our United States Air Force and nation.”

Santa Barbara resident Barbara Faulkner joined the National Guard in 1982 and served for two years, even though she is gay. When Faulkner first met with her recruiter, he said there were two questions she would be asked that she didn’t have to tell the truth about.

“He said, ‘They’re going to ask you if you’ve ever smoked pot and if you were a homosexual,’” Faulkner said. “It seemed to me like it was just a normal recruitment question.”

She said she answered no to both questions, even though the answer to both truthfully was yes, and served as a lieutenant in an administrative role for the two years she served. She left the National Guard when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and learned that her unit was on alert to be deployed to Afghanistan, and was discharged for medical reasons.

When asked how the don’t ask, don’t tell repeal would have affected her service, Faulkner said, “I would have been very much relieved.”

She lived in Arizona at the time and had not gone public with the fact that she was gay.

“I was very cautious,” she said. “[The DADT repeal] is proving to younger gays that society that is becoming much more accepting.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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