COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In another historical moment in the post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, the U.S. Air Force Academy this week graduated its first group of openly gay cadets.
Trish Heller, who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni, told ABC News that her group had connected with at least four members of the class of 2012 receiving diplomas this week who had come out publicly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. There were likely others, she said.
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ABC reported that gay cadets at all the U.S. military service academies have been forming clubs and support groups, slowly making their existence known online and at campus social events.
The Air Force Academy group – called Spectrum – was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, its organizers said.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited openly gay service members, was approved in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton as a compromise toward ending a long-standing ban on allowing gays in the U.S. military.
The policy was officially repealed in September 2011 after Congress passed a law in 2010 formally ordering repeal.