Story by Stephanie Sanchez, Reporter - bio | email
Yuma, AZ-Openly gay men and women no longer have to hide their sexual orientation if they want to enlist.
And here locally, gay rights activists are celebrating the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Since 1993, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" kept U.S. service members quiet about their sexual orientation.
Just after midnight the U.S. military ended the ban.
"What 'don't ask, don't tell' did is force good, honest American soldiers who wanted to serve their country to lie," Michael Baughman, a human & civil rights advocate of Yuma said.
Under the former law, military members were not allowed to ask about someone's sexual orientation and gays and lesbians were expected to not tell anybody either.
If they were outed, service members faced expulsion or punishment.
Baughman, treasurer of PFLAG Yuma, said the repeal was "long overdue".
"It should have never been a fight in the first place...its just one of those horrible things," he said.
For 18 years, the ban discharged about 13,000 men and women for being gay.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen praised the change.
"It was the right thing to do, it's done and we need to move on," Mullen said.
They are men and women who put there lives on the line and that's what should matter most," Panetta said.
All pending investigations regarding service member's sexual orientation will be dropped.
Also those who were discharged because of the former law are free to re-enlist.
"This change means that someone can now openly go into a recruiting office and regardless of what their sexual preference is, they can join the military without discrimination," Captain Staci Reidinger of the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma said.
Email Alert Sign Up
Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.
BLYTHE, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - A man accused of molesting a child is behind bars today, after a hospital in Blythe reported the abuse. Police say they got the call Monday from Palo Verde Hospital,More >>
A man accused of molesting a child is behind bars today, after a hospital in Blythe reported the abuse.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - We have an update on the missing 19-year-old who hasn't been heard from in more than four months. The woman police wanted to question in regards to Emily Hieber's disappearanceMore >>
We have an update on the missing 19-year-old who hasn't been heard from in more than four months.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - PBS 8 producers for the show 'Check Please! Arizona' are looking for Yuma restaurants to feature on their television show. The show's producers will choose a trio of guestsMore >>
PBS 8 producers for the show 'Check Please! Arizona' are looking for Yuma restaurants to feature on their television show.More >>
BLYTHE, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - Police are looking for the person who shot a man riding his bicycle. It happened Friday night at around 11:00 pm. Police say a 42-year-old man was riding his bicycleMore >>
Police are looking for the person who shot a man riding his bicycle.More >>