Kansas City, Missouri – Members of the local gay and lesbian community see the repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as a major civil rights victory.
Under "Don't Ask,Don't Tell," gays and lesbians were forced to hide their sexual orientation or face discharge. According to the policy, being gay created a dangerous distraction to a well-functioning military.
The policy was repealed by Congress last December. During a 60-day waiting period before the repeal took effect, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff affirmed that the repeal would not harm military readiness.
Local activist Doug Gray said it's an important day: "We're able to say to those who meet the requirements,(you can) serve in the U.S. military, abide by the politics and laws of your service, and with no regard to your sexual orientation."
Gray said there will be a celebration tonight at the Bistro 303 in Westport marking the historic day.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Senator Claire McCaskill both supported the repeal. Local activists said hundreds of local gays and lesbians have served in the military - possibly thousands from the state of Missouri. There are also many who have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
A December Gallup Poll indicated 67 percent of Americans favored repealing the policy barring gays from serving openly in the military.