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91-year-old veteran who was discharged for being gay is suing the Air Force

Meka Beresford November 19, 2016

A 91-year-old Air Force Veteran is suing the Air Force after they discharged him for being gay.

Hubert Edward Spires was outed by his supervisors in the force in 1948, but now he’s taking them to federal court to change the terms of his discharge from “undesirable.”

Spires served in Texas, and would often see his circle of gay friends during his time stationed there. However, in late 1947 the commander on the base called for his aides to begin “cleaning up the base of homosexuals.”

Spires himself was interrogate after someone mistook a halloween costume of laundry detergent for him dressing in drag. He declined to answer if he was gay, but gave in when he was promised the interrogation would stop if he signed a statement saying he “passively participated in homosexual acts.”

Spires was discharged 70 years ago after his service between 1946-48, and kept quiet for a long time, but is now fighting his case after he battled pneumonia making him realise he wanted permission for a military burial.

He requested a discharge upgrade after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2011, but was denied because the Air Force claimed his paperwork detailing his discharge was lost in a fire back in the 70’s.

After his dismissal from the Air Force, Spires went on to design sets and theatre props at a local university in Connecticut and eventually married his partner David Rosenberg.

Rosenberg said: “You’re humiliated and when you know that you served without causing problems, makes it even worse.”

Rosenberg also served in the forces but didn’t disclose his sexual identity during his time, meaning he is eligible for a military burial but his partner is not.

Spires and Rosenberg married in 2009 after 50 years of partnership when same-sex marriage was legalised in their state.

“We hope that in doing so the U.S. Military may send a message to other gay vets that their service is appreciated and recognised under the law,” Rosenberg said.

More: air force, America, Army, Gay, LGBT, suing, US

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