CHICAGO (WBBM) – It may be months before gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military, but a Chicago man kicked out eight years ago under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has contacted a recruiter and could become the first openly gay man in Illinois to enlist.

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It was 2002 when Lee Reinhart of Chicago was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Now 37 years old, he’s ready to go back.

“Why not go back in?  If I fought so hard for something, why not reap some of the reward now?”

It is a policy change Reinhart has fought for, for years.

He says he feels like “a true American” now.  And he put his new status into perspective, as he talked to his brother-in- law this weekend.

“He looked and me and he goes, ‘Lee, you’re one of us now.  You’re just a normal guy now.  You’re boring.'”

Reinhart says he’s contacted a recruiter and wants to get things rolling to enlist in the Navy Reserves.

He says the end of the policy is not only good for gay men and lesbians in the military.

“But I also thought about the straight people that have served with gay and lesbian people, that have known about their secret and had to keep their secret for them to protect them.  Our straight brothers and sisters no longer have to have that worry anymore either.”

Reinhart wants to join the Navy Reserve.  And he says he would give his life for his country.

“It’s a high honor to be able to do that.”

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