Tuesday, January 10, 2017

UPDATE: 91-Year-Old Gay Veteran’s Discharge Retroactively Changed To ‘Honorable’

Last week I reported on how the Air Force did an injustice to H. Edward Spires 68 years ago when it interrogated him and booted him out with an "undesirable" discharge because he is gay. Some great news about his case via CBSNewYork/AP:

After waiting for 70 years, a gay veteran from Norwalk, Connecticut is finally getting the recognition he deserves. H. Edward Spires, 91, who goes by Ed, was dismissed from the U.S. Air Force as “undesirable” in 1948 because he is gay. He has now had the discharge retroactively changed to “honorable.”

It was 1947 at Blackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. “I was visiting off base at a Halloween party,” Spires said. Spires’ fellow servicemen turned him in for wearing a costume that looked like drag. The decision was swift – with “undesirable” discharge, it was like Spires had never served at all. “Going to hospitals, going to the dentist, with the government paying for it — I was entitled to all that,” Spires said.

Seven decades passed, and when President Barack Obama repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Spires said, “I had high hopes that it would happen.” But there was another hurdle. The Air Force said Spires’ records were lost in a 1973 fire. “They were claiming that I was never in the service,” he said. But with the help of Yale University law students, Spires proved it. There was no apology from the Air Force on Monday, just a statement that there is evidence to demonstrate the existence of injustice.