HARRISONBURG, Va -- Jelesa Anthony is a lesbian in the military and she said before “don't ask, don't tell” was repealed, she felt like an outcast because she had to hide who she was. Now, a year after it was repealed, she not only feels more comfortable at work, but she says she has a better time doing her job.
Anthony has been in the Virginia Army National Guard for five years. Before “don't ask, don't tell” was repealed, she said it was uncomfortable being a lesbian in the military.
Now, one year later, that has all changed.
"Now, just in general conversation, I don't have to be conscious of what I'm saying. I can be talking to another one of my soldiers rather than I'm trying to cover something up."
Now, Anthony said she does not have to cover up her engagement with Shenika Marable and her fiance is happy about it too.
"As far as it being a year later, I'm ecstatic,” said Marable. “And I'm just so excited and I'm just happy I can walk around with my fiance on my arm and it's not like we have to creep around because she's in the military. She can do it openly and not be judged by it at all."
Anthony said this allows her to announce her engagement to the people with whom she works.
"Last month, my unit, we had family day. It was the first time I was able to bring her to my unit and introduce her as my fiance rather than this is my friend," said Anthony.
Anthony said now she can be open about herself and she can do a better job at work.
"And I feel like it will bring the units together more because I would be more willing to tell someone a personal issue that I was having that might affect my combat readiness, without worrying about okay I'm going to get kicked out today."
She said it is a step forward for gay rights, making it easier for her to plan a wedding with the woman she loves.
The couple now faces the challenge of finding a place to get married. Since gays cannot get married here in Virginia. They said they are looking into having their wedding in Washington, D.C.
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