It’s happy hour at what is believed to be Connecticut’s oldest gay bar, but only a few patrons quietly nurse their drinks. The small crowd is a typical Tuesday afternoon at the 168 York St. Café in New Haven. While average, it wasn’t as lively as expected on the historic day that the military ban on gay service members was repealed.
“I did expect a lot of people to come out,” said longtime owner Joe Goodwin. “It’s a big issue.”
To celebrate of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network organized parties across the nation. One person showed up to the advocacy group’s celebration at the 168 York St. Café - the only one in Connecticut. Disappointed, the person soon left.
“It’s like the gay pride parade,” Goodwin said. “People would rather just watch it on TV.”
Although the day was quiet in Connecticut, it was still significant. At New London’s U.S. Coast Guard campus, the repeal is reportedly being embraced by the top brass and the recruits.
According to the Associated Press, one major change stems from the Coast Guard’s requirement that people of the opposite sex who study in the same barracks must keep the door open when together. Now, that policy will be extended to be people of the same sex in the name of fairness.
"I think everybody's going to be on board with this," Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz said. "Quite frankly, I think our focus on finding the best and the brightest from diverse parts of America and our inclusive policies is going to make this easy for us."
DADT, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993 as a way to weaken the military’s outright ban on gay members, was repealed by the Senate late last year. The law was formally repealed on Tuesday morning. And Connecticut politicians praised the move.
“The United States military is the strongest, best-trained fighting force in the world – and our national security and military readiness are only enhanced by ensuring that all individuals willing to serve our country, regardless of who they are and whom they love, are able to do so,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a statement.
Although things were calm in Connecticut, there’s still a chance to celebrate the repeal. U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) announced a rally at , at 60 East Ave., Norwalk on Wednesday, at .
“At long last, the United States has abolished the institutionalized bigotry of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Himes said in a statement. “Today we thank the many [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered] men and women who bravely serve our country and look forward to a more secure nation, a stronger military, and an environment that treats all soldiers with the same respect and dignity they deserve.”