Ask and Tell
Gary Ross and his husband Dan were the first Military couple to get married after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, DADT, and exchanged their vows at 12:01 AM on September 21st, 2011– the exact moment the law was repealed.
“We decided that because we would’ve gotten married so long ago had the law allowed it, that we wanted to get married at the first possible opportunity we could. It was one more way to make our relationship on equal grounds with other Americans.” Gary said during a visit to StoryCorps with his husband Dan.
Gary spoke about how he had to keep his relationship with Dan secret while serving under DADT. “Everyday there’s more weight on your shoulders, you have to be careful about what you say, what you do, who you’re friends with at work. It really takes away who you are just to have a relationship with the person you love,” he said.
Gary and Dan came to StoryCorps as part of our ongoing Military Voices Initiative in partnership with the American Military Partners Association (AMPA) in San Diego, CA, where we recorded stories of LGBT Military servicemembers, veterans and families.
Gary, who is on active duty, talked about what he felt like when he had to return to work after the wedding. “I was terrified to go back, but I put on my uniform, polished my boots and set cruise control so I could drive the speed limit knowing that my mind was in one hundred places,” he said.
Gary explained how when he pulled into the parking lot he was expecting to see protesters holding picket signs but was received by a familiar face.
“There was one Major in the U.S. Army standing behind my car and when I got out, he congratulated me for my wedding, shook my hand and told me how proud he was of me. It was right at that moment when I realized everything was going to be OK,” he said.