A former U.S. Air Force sergeant, who was kicked out of the military in 2002 and eventually went to work for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will be one of eight featured “citizen co-chairs” of President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Monday.
The “citizen co-chairs” role was created to highlight Obama’s first-term accomplishments with examples of lives that have either been improved by his actions or inspired his presidency.
Among those participating in the inauguration will be former SSgt. David Hall, who joined the Air Force in 1996.
Hall was a self-described “military brat” whose father and step-father both retired from the Air Force after serving 20 years. Following in their footsteps, Hall was training to be a pilot when, in 2002, he was discharged after a female cadet went to his commander with the revelation that he was gay.
“I received a piece of paper saying I was no longer fit for military duty due to ‘homosexual conduct.’ You can’t even imagine how that feels,” Hall wrote in a letter to Obama in 2010.
“I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry. Mr. President – I assure you I am fit for military duty and so are the 66,000 lesbian and gay service members currently serving,” he wrote.
Hall joined the staff of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (now OutServe-SLDN) in 2006 and currently serves as the organization’s Development Director and Information Technology Manager.
Inauguration officials said Wednesday Hall and the other seven individuals selected to participate in the inaugural events is meant to showcase the Obama Administration’s core values through real-life examples that people across the country can relate to.
“This is certainly the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to President Obama for his leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so that no qualified American who wants to serve this country in uniform will ever again be denied that right simply because they are gay or lesbian,” said Hall.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), enacted in 1993, prohibited openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military; the ban was formally repealed on Sept. 20, 2011 during Obama’s first term.
In the 17 years in which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in force, more than 14,000 service members were been discharged from the military due to their sexual orientation.