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Indiana National Guard instituting DADT repeal

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By Sarah Seward

The Indiana National Guard already has taken measures to begin implementing the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The new policy restricts the military from barring servicemen and women because of their sexual orientation.

"The new policy is simply that one's personal lifestyle is not criteria for recruitment," said Lt. Col. Brian Dickerson, a spokesman for Indiana's National Guard. "It's not discussed and it's not a factor."

President Barack Obama signed the new policy into law on July 22, but it will not take effect until Sept. 20.

Dickerson said the Indiana National Guard already has started implementing the new policy by teaching all personnel "what the new policy is, where it originated from, and how it will be enforced."

Indiana's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, even taught some of the classes.

"It's very unusual to see a two-star general teaching a class, but that's how important this new policy is to him," Dickerson said.

Dickerson reported that the new policy was not unexpected and was received without emotion by military personnel.

"It was received like soldiers would receive any change of policy," Dickerson said.

But Noel Denton, 21, an Indianapolis resident and former medic in the National Guard, said gay and lesbian military personnel likely will face discrimination regardless of the new policy.

"I don't know how well it will be accepted," he said. "Some soldiers will discriminate against a member in their unit who is openly gay."

Denton served in an all-male unit and said that finding out one of the members of his unit was gay could have caused problems.

"It's a good mindset to have, but I think there will still be discrimination regardless," Denton said.

Still, Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne said he expects most Indiana National Guard soldiers will take the new policy like they take any order.

"You step up to the plate and say 'yes sir,'" said Wyss, who is retired from the National Guard.

Dickerson said that the new policy will not have much of an effect on Indiana's military.

"It's not changing the way we do business," Dickerson said. "Disrespect has not been tolerated now, it's not been tolerated in the past, and it won't be tolerated in the future."

The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.

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