It only appears to be happening quickly because of all the heroes during the past six decades.
We're familiar with the 1969 Stonewall riots, now memorialized in annual Pride celebrations. But 18 years earlier the Mattachine Society, and then the Daughters of Bilitis a few years after that, started building a grassroots movement of gay people to increase understanding and stop discrimination.
Fighting the "no gays in the military" rule wasn't new: Forty-six years before President Obama certified the end of "don't ask, don't tell," members of those groups picketed the White House and the Pentagon to protest gays being excluded from military service and federal employment.
Did those 46 years pass by quickly? Not for the protestors, most of whom did not live to see that day. Leader Frank Kameny, a veteran who in 1957 was the first to challenge being dismissed from government service for being gay and took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1961, died a few weeks after the repeal took effect.
Nor did time pass quickly for those who served under either policy: the initial ban, officially established in 1916, or the equally harmful "don't ask, don't tell" of 1993.
Some soldiers bridged both: Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, Chief Nurse of the Washington National Guard, was asked her sexual orientation during a 1989 security-clearance interview. Her honesty yielded a three-year investigation that culminated with her dismissal in June 11, 1992, 30 years to the day that she had joined the Army. She wrote about the trial in her autobiography and her experience was made into a 1995 television movie, Serving in Silence, executive-produced by Barbra Streisand and starring Glenn Close.
Another National Guard nurse, Col. Pat Thompson, retired 11 months after President Clinton announced DADT. Throughout her career she'd deflected the typical "why aren't you married?" questions as she rose through the ranks, becoming Chief Nurse of the Army National Guard. Like many other lesbian or gay military couples, she and her wife, Barbara Brass, wrestled with heart-wrenching choices, which they share in the film-in-production Surviving the Silence: Love and Impossible Choices. READ MORE HERE