Gay Plano man who was discharged from Navy under ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ attempts to re-enlist

John James Coolidge III

John James Coolidge III, a 24-year-old gay man who was discharged from the Navy in 2007 under “don’t ask don’t tell,” says he walked into a recruiting station in Plano this morning and attempted to re-enlist — this time in the Reserves.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it had advised recruiting commanders they must accept gay applicants, after a federal district judge issued an order last week halting enforcement of DADT.

“I handed them every item I have from my military record,” Coolidge said of his visit to the recruiting station. “I said specifically, ‘I’ve been waiting three years and eight months to the day for this. I want this taken care of and changed, and I want to get back in.’”

Coolidge said he was directed to another recruiting office in Mesquite that handles re-enlistments. He said he plans to go there on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the government has asked an appellate court for an emergency stay of the order halting enforcement of DADT.

“I know it’s kind of up in the air, but I’m hoping the courts side with the fact that it really is unconstitutional,” said Coolidge, adding that he’s a gay Republican and proudly noting that the lawsuit was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Coolidge said he was a medic stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and had been the Navy for less than a year, when someone told his commander that he was dating a Marine sergeant — which wasn’t entirely true. “I just slept with him,” Coolidge said. “It wasn’t worth it either. He was slightly drunk and he had a really tacky red light in his room.”

Coolidge said he was discharged within a month, forcing him to come out to his Catholic parents. He contemplated suicide and checked himself into a psychiatric ward.

A Michigan native, Coolidge eventually moved to Texas and now lives in Plano. He said he’s currently unemployed but recently obtained his Certified Nursing Assistant license.

We’ll have an update on Coolidge after he visits the Mesquite recruiting office on Thursday.

UPDATE: Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Wednesday afternoon that another gay veteran who was discharged under DADT, Michael Moore, re-enlisted today in Mesquite. Here’s what Gainer said:

“Airman Michael Moore went to the Mesquite Recruiting Station and started his re-enlistment processing today. Fox 4 News Dallas accompanied him. You may recognize  Michael who carried the Rainbow Flag in the color guard leading the Alan Ross parade the last two years. I am so very proud of these young men and women who, although aware of the potential consequences and the obstacles that may be in their way, simply stand back up, dust themselves off, and say – I just want to continue to serve. SLDN is still advising active duty personnel to not come out until DADT is fully repealed. The DOJ appeal to the 9th Circuit Court can still go either way.”

—  John Wright