Wow. I don't even know how to feel about this. I knew it would come someday... but it's different when it finally happens.
Close friend, fellow servicemember, and DADT activist Patrick English had this to say:
"It feels amazing. Reality hasn't really sunk in yet."
Specialist Patrick English
Patrick, like myself, has been involved in anti-DADT activism for years-- he was involved with the Call to Duty tour, where he traveled from state to state and school to school giving talks about DADT and its negative effects on our fighting force. He was in the gallery this morning watching the vote as it occurred. I asked him to tell me about the atmosphere amongst those watching.
"There was tension," he tells me, "but an overwhelming sense of hopefulness. There were a lot of people who had been discharged there, and everyone was saying, 'Today is the day.'"
As soon as the vote came through, he told me, he turned to Victor Fehrenbach. Fehrenbach is a USAF pilot who was waiting to be discharged involuntarily for being gay. "He had tears in his eyes."
Fehrenbach gets to keep his job.
Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach
What a historic day.
Michael Bedwell, who was on the fence when I got arrested at the White House, has been fighting against Don't Ask Don't Tell for decades and was a close friend of Leonard Matlovich, the first servicemember to ever come out as gay. Matlovich has since passed away, but Michael continued his work in advocacy. I asked him his reaction.
Tech Sgt. Leonard Matlovich
"Very mixed feelings. First because there's still going to be a fight to get them to actual end it within a reasonable amount of time, and second because Leonard and SO many others aren't alive to see us even at the threshold."
I'm sure Leonard sees it, Michael.
Good job, everyone.