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US Congress votes to end military ban on gays and lesbians

The gay Army lieutenant’s heart had been racing all night.

world Updated: Dec 20, 2010 01:18 IST

The gay Army lieutenant’s heart had been racing all night.

Shuffling between meetings at his outpost in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday night, the 27-year-old officer kept popping his head into the main office to catch a glimpse of Fox News’s coverage of the Senate debate that led to a vote lifting the ban on gay men and lesbians serving in the military openly.

“Don’t cry,” a 21-year-old specialist, one of the lieutenant’s confidants, told his boss jokingly when news broke that 65 senators had voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“I’m completely numb,” was all the lieutenant could mutter. Across the world, other gay troops whose lives, careers and relationships have been indelibly, if sometimes quietly, shaped by the ban, reacted to the news with a mixture of rapture and disbelief.

Many had seethed for weeks as the political debate over the repeal became laden with sexual innuendo and suggestions that openly gay soldiers on the front lines might become life-threatening distractions. “I was flipping out,” the lieutenant said Saturday night, speaking by phone.

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