Air Force Reverses Dishonorable Discharge For 91-Year-Old Gay Veteran
The United States Air Force has changed the discharge status of a veteran who was dismissed from the Air Force from “undesirable” to “honorable.” H. Edward Spires of Norwalk, Connecticut, was dismissed from service in 1948 after serving as a chaplain’s assistant from 1946 to 1948. He was forced out of the military as a sergeant after an investigation into his sexual orientation determined he was a homosexual.
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The Air Force reportedly changed his discharge status after Spires filed a lawsuit in November but has been seeking a discharge status change after the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2010. The change has also been delayed due to all of Spires’ records being lost in a fire in 1973 despite Spires receiving support from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) who called Spires’ situation an “incredible injustice.”
Spires’ husband, David Rosenberg, commented on his husbands “undesirable” discharge during a case briefing at the Yale Law School in November, 2016.
“The idea that this man of faith who served dutifully as a chaplain’s assistant in the armed forces, who built a life and a career that has brought joy to those around him, would leave this earth considered undesirable in the eyes of his country, it’s unthinkable,” he said.
Spires was informed of the status change on Friday night by the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records after the change was approved by the Air Force Review Boards Agency. According to Spires’ lawyer, he is currently in poor health. The status change will allow him to qualify for a military funeral, which is now possible under his new honorable discharge status.