While the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the overturning of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act opened doors more widely to gay people serving openly in the military, it didn’t mark radical changes to the way the fighting force looked or behaved. Instead, it brought the possibility of marriage and spousal benefits to soldiers that were previously denied. And, an opportunity to live more freely.
“When you come out and you’ve been out so long, it’s hard to just go back in,” said Spc. Corderra Dews, 24, who was living in Austin, Texas, and openly gay before he joined the Army in 2011.
While there are no solid statistics on the number of gay and lesbian soldiers currently in the military, a group of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, spoke with The Leaf-Chronicle about life in the military before and after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the Army’s decision to extend benefits to same-sex spouses, furthering the full inclusion of gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.