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The nation's top two Defense officials called on Congress on Tuesday to end the 16-year- old “don't ask, don't tell” policy, that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the United States military.
While active duty service members are prohibited from talking about the issue, as Newschannel 7's Alexandra Hill tells us, plenty of local former military members have an opinion.
"I was in the military. I got out when I was a first lieutenant. I was military police in the Army National Guard and I knew when I signed that contract that I was breaking a cardinal rule," said Michael Greene, a military veteran and current President of Emerald Coast Pride.
Michael Greene is gay. He grew up in a military family, went to school in Wewa, joined the ROTC, and despite all military stigmas with his sexuality, chose to serve for seven years in our armed services in hiding.
"For me, and I think most of the service members, when that uniform goes on you've got a duty. You've got a job to do. Not once did I join the military to recruit for the LGBT community,” said Greene.
Under the military's current “don't ask, don't tell” policy, Greene would not have been allowed to serve. Homosexual conduct is grounds for a discharge.
Since the policy was implemented in 1993, an estimated 13,000 servicemen and servicewomen have been kicked out.
During his state of the union address last week, President Obama called on Congress to end “don't ask, don't tell.”
On Tuesday, the nation's top two defense officials supported that decision .
"We have in place, a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But not everyone in Washington agrees with abandoning the policy.
"Don't ask, don't tell has been an imperfect but effective policy. And at this moment, when we are asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law,” said Senator John McCain, R- Arizona.
Washington is not the only place where people are debating gays in the military.
Robert Thompson is retired military and the one of the leaders of the Bay Patriots conservative group. He never wanted the “don't ask, don't tell” policy in the first place, saying strict military regulations can take care of any inappropriate behavior, straight or gay.
"Write strict laws. Write strict military regulations. Allow them in, but make them tow the line the same way they would any other law abiding citizen,” said Thompson.
Thompson’s wife, Reeda, is a little more opinionated about the policy.
"I mean who cares! I don't care who somebody makes love to and I mean most people don't. I just feel like people are born that way and I think they should leave people alone,” said Reeda.
"This way our service members can be in there with everyone else. Not have to protect, or hide, or conceal who they are and be able to worry about getting the job done they've signed up to do,” added Greene.
The Pentagon plans to study the issue for a year, before recommending any type of change. Until then, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he intends to announce some changes to the “don't ask, don't tell” policy in the next 45 days.