LINCOLN, Neb. – A Nebraska couple marked the end of the U.S. military’s ban on gays serving openly in the armed service by tying the knot in front of friends and family.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday that Gregory Smith, 48, a full-time member of the Nebraska Army National Guard, married 39-year-old John Burns on Tuesday in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Gay marriages are legal in Iowa but not in Nebraska.
The couple originally planned to marry next spring, but Smith told family members he wanted to marry on the first day he could serve openly as a gay man in the military. Smith is a sergeant at the National Guard base at Ashland.
“After serving almost 17 years in two branches of the military, I am glad that (don’t ask, don’t tell) has finally been repealed,” he said in an email. “This day marks another special day, as I married my same-sex partner of four years.”
Burns told the Journal Star that if the ban on gay military service members had not been lifted, he and Smith probably would not have married.
“We probably would have waited until Greg got out of the military,” Burns said.
Repeal of the 18-year-old legal provision–commonly known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” under which gays can serve as long as they don’t openly acknowledge their sexual orientation–took effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
The head of Pentagon personnel policies, Clifford Stanley, issued a memo saying “all service members are to treat one another with dignity and respect regardless of sexual orientation.”