Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of President Bill Clinton announcing his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which lifted the ban on gays in the military.
“It is not a perfect solution. It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone,” Clinton said at the time.
“This is an end to witch hunts that spend millions of taxpayer dollars to ferret out individuals who have served their country well.”
It's a policy many gay and lesbian veterans say still haunts them today.
“'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was an ingenious piece of discrimination,” says former Army captain Jonathan Hopkins who was among some 14,000 military members discharged under the policy. “If you're goal is to discriminate, you could not have done better. We're going to treat a group of people differently, then we're going to ban them from talking about it.”
Hopkins says full inclusion was the only solution.
“It's really quite sad that members of Congress and even Colin Powell at the time were opposed to the change, because fundamentally they didn't understand the people about which they were making the rules, they didn't choose to talk to them or ask them anything,” he says.
DADT was repealed in 2011 under the Obama administration, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld an injunction blocking President Donald Trump's ban on transgender soldiers in the military.
“Sometimes people don't know they're trans, just like you don't know you have any sort of situation you might have to have dealt with,” says Hopkins. “People are going into the military with other issues, with other challenges and the military helps them deal with it, so being trans is no different.”
Today there are roughly 2,500 transgender among the 30,000 gays or lesbians serving in the armed forces.