Obama pardons former soldier convicted in 1989 of having gay sex

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Before Don't Ask Don't Tell became law, homosexuality was banned by the Department of Defense. LGBTQ Nation

On Tuesday Obama pardoned a former Army captain who was convicted of a felony after being found in a relationship with another man in 1989.

The Georgia resident, Peter Heidgerd, 56, was convicted of “conduct unbecoming an officer” and served a year in prison after his relationship with another man was discovered. He was discharged from the Army and had to find employment with a felony on his record.

“He had a felony on his record. So when he came back to Georgia to find a job he could not get one because no one would hire him with a felony on his record and less than honorable discharge,” his attorney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Heidgerd said that he “didn’t need a president to pardon me, but this helps.” Now, with the presidential pardon, it’s as if he had never been convicted.

In the 1980’s, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was not yet federal law, but same-sex relationships were banned by the Department of Defense under the policy that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” The policy cited “discipline, good order, and morale” and “prevent[ing] breaches of security.”

President Obama pardoned 64 people this week, commuted the sentences of 209 (including Chelsea Manning), and ordered the release of 1400 federal inmates.

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