That sound of wailing and gnashing teeth you hear comes from religious conservatives, right-wing pols, and professional anti-gay bigots who had hoped to keep America's gay and lesbian soldiers cowering in the closet.
Charley Keyes reports for CNN: The reactions range from gloom-and-doom predictions to big countdown parties and smaller celebrations to ho-hum business-as-usual as the U.S. military changes its rules Tuesday and allows gay men and lesbians to serve openly. A minute into the new day, 12:01 a.m., the old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule that has been in force since the Clinton administration is gone. In its place is a policy designed to be blind to sexual orientation and that the Pentagon brass insists will maintain the military in fighting trim and have no negative impact on "military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention." ... One of the most prominent congressional supporters of the change, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said that from now on thousands of Americans will be able to serve their country without concealing part of their identity. "They will no longer have to lie in order to help protect us," Levin said in a statement released by his staff. "The end of 'don't ask, don't tell' is an important victory not just for equality, but integrity."
Institutionalized homophobia will be harder to suppress. From Asbury Park Press: Mark, a former enlisted Marine who is now attending the Naval Academy and working to become a Marine officer, said that although most will meet the commandant's expectations, there will be some who won't. "I feel like you just can't beat the camaraderie in the Marine Corps," he said. "But with that, comes the whole homophobic attitude." ("Boys will be boys" is the excuse du jour of those who ignore bullying in public schools.) The message of enforcement needs to be clear from the top down, said Jeff, a captain and company commander in an infantry battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., who is gay. He recently watched his battalion sergeant major use gay slurs in a briefing with staff noncommissioned officers and junior officers. "Every staff NCO in the room and potentially even junior officers could have gone out the next day, said something like that in front of their Marines and say, I was just following the example of the battalion sergeant major," Jeff said.
In this touching video, a soldier phones his Dad and tells him that he's gay. (Hat Tip: AmericaBlog)