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Md. Naval Reservist Rejoins Military After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal

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Jeremy Johnson

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been one year since the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Since the repeal, gays and lesbians can openly serve in the U.S. military.

Adam May spoke with a Baltimore man who made history when he rejoined the Naval Reserves last September.

After 10 years of active duty in the Navy, Jeremy Johnson made a decision in 2007 that ended his military career: violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that required gays and lesbians in the Armed Forces to hide their sexual orientation.

“It was forcing me to live a life alone,” Johnson said. “And so I wrote a letter to my commanding officer at the time and told him I was gay and asked to be dismissed…the first thing he said is, `We should reconsider.'”

But he didn’t and he was discharged for his homosexual admission.

“Ten years of life were in the Navy and I started realizing I shouldn’t give up, especially when other people were affected by it,” Johnson said.

He got involved with groups fighting “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” When President Barack Obama repealed the controversial policy last September, Johnson became the first openly gay service member to re-join the military.

“The Navy was something I enjoyed and I thought without this policy, it would be the Navy I always wanted to be in,” Johnson said.

A new study finds the repeal had no negative impact on readiness, cohesion, recruitment or retention.

“It felt like another Navy ceremony. I guess it’s been so engraved in me, Navy life…there wasn’t really that rush of emotion. It was nice,” Johnson said.

A handful of conservative Republicans in Congress want to reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney oppose returning to the old policy.

More than 13,000 service members were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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