Discharged Marine: I’ve Been There, A DADT Repeal Will Work

Justin Elzie , Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant

Justin Elzie , Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant

The first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy says he knows from personal experience, a repeal "will work."

Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie tells Fox News, that when he was discharged in 1993, "It was almost like having my identity taken away from me, after dedicating so many years to the Marine Corps."

Elzie was also the first service member to legally fight his discharge and win-- temporarily that is. He served as an openly gay marine for four years before being finally discharged in 1997.

Elzie admits he did initially encounter problems when he was reinstated as an openly gay marine. But Elzie says when the press died down, "It became business as usual. I had a platoon of marines. I was a platoon sergeant. We went out in the field and fox holes, and really, after awhile it just became sort of a non-issue."

Elzie was on Capitol Hill for the recent DADT hearings. During those hearings, the head of the marines, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he opposes a swift repeal of DADT.

Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos testified, "If the law is changed, successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat."

Amos also testified that there is even more discomfort with the repeal among Marines than there is within the military as a whole. Amos was referring to the findings of a new Defense Department report on repealing DADT. That report shows almost 60% of the combat Marine soldiers surveyed say: if there was an openly gay soldier in their immediate unit, it would affect them negatively to very negatively. That number drops to 40% when you look at all troops in combat.

Elzie says he will be disappointed if a congressional vote on the repeal is put off until next year because of time or politics. He adds, "I came out to make a difference and show folks that there are gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. I really wanted to get that message out and to change the conversation and improve the Marine Corps."

President Obama backs the report and continues to say a repeal must come, "in an orderly fashion."

Elzie thinks that if there is a delay, there will be "A lot of pressure on President Obama to stop appealing the court decision that is in the works."