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CHICAGO (CBS) – A 38-year old man on Monday became the first man in Illinois to re-enlist in the military after being kicked out of the service because he’s gay.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Lee Reinhart took the oath of enlistment in the Naval Reserves from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) at a ceremony in the Lakeview neighborhood Monday morning.
Reinhart’s mother, Patty said, “I think it’s great, because he’s been working long and hard for this.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
It was Reinhart’s third time joining the military. He was kicked out of the Coast Guard almost ten years ago for being homosexual. He’d previously served a stint in the Navy, where he was not confronted about his sexual orientation.
Reinhart fought the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and was relieved to see it repealed. Congress voted to abolish the policy late last year and it officially ended last month.
“I want to continue to serve my country. I have the honor to do so and I will do that to the best of my ability,” Reinhart said.
Quigley said the United States is a much safer place now that everyone who is qualified – gays included – can serve openly in the military.
“We kicked out almost 60 people who were interpreters of the Arabic languages,” Quigley said. “We had hundreds of thousands of hours of backlogs of language that we think terrorists are plotting against us. We need this information.”
The congressman was among those who led the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Eventually, our country gets things right,” Quigley said.