A 91-year-old veteran discharged in
1948 because he's gay is suing the U.S. Air Force to update his
discharge status from “undesirable” to honorable.
H. Edward Spires filed his lawsuit in a
federal court on Friday.
Prior to passage of Don't Ask, Don't
Tell in 1993, the military had an outright ban on gay troops and
actively drummed them out of the armed forces.
Spires was accused of being gay after
he attended an off-base Halloween party. After he refused to
cooperate in outing other members of his unit, he was discharged with
an “undesirable” status for being gay.
“For nearly seventy years, the United
States Air Force has denied Plaintiff H. Edward Spires the dignity of
an honorable discharge because he is gay,” the
lawsuit states. “At age 91, Mr. Spires asks the military to
upgrade his discharge from 'Undesirable' for reason of
'homosexuality' to 'Honorable,' to reflect his faithful service to
his country and his equality in the eyes of the country he served.”
Without an honorable discharge, Spires'
wish of being buried with military honors isn't possible.
Spires, who is said to be in poor
health, has twice applied for a discharge status upgrade, both of
which have been denied, the first on the grounds that the Air Force
could not locate vital records due to a fire. The Air Force recently
said that it would reconsider Spires' most recent denial, but did not
provide a timetable on a decision.