Gay veteran asks for ‘undesirable discharge’ to be removed from record

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WHDH) — A Connecticut veteran who was discharged from the Air Force for being gay is now asking for the “undesirable discharge” label to be removed from his record.

Ed Spires served as a chaplain assistant at a Texas Air Force base from 1946 to 1948. Erin Baldwin, of the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic, said he faced an inquisition before superior officers, who sent him home because he was gay.

After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010, thousands of LGBT veterans became eligible to apply for a correction to their military records, showing an honorable discharge instead of an undesirable one. However in 2014, citing the destruction of Spires’s personnel file in a 1973 fire in St. Louis, the Air Force denied his request.

“Despite the discrimination I faced, I left the military with an honorable discharge,” said Spires’s husband David Rosenberg, an Army veteran. The two have been together for 58 years and married in 2009. Rosenberg spoke for his husband, who was recovering from pneumonia. “It is an injustice that the military has treated Ed and me so differently despite our equal honorable service.”

With help from the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic, Spires filed a federal lawsuit against the Secretary of the Air Force. The lawsuit asks for his military record to reflect his faithful service, especially because he wants to have a military funeral.

“We hope in doing so the U.S. military may send a message to other gay veterans that the service was appreciated and is recognized with equality under the law,” said Rosenberg.

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