Published Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 | 4:49 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 | 4:49 p.m.
It took a long time, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid kept his promise.
The ban on gays serving openly in the military has been lifted.
And that means Lt. Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran and leading activist for military gay rights, gets his West Point ring back.
Choi, who last summer was honorably discharged from the Army National Guard because he is gay, gave the ring to Reid in July during an emotional meeting at The Rio.
Choi had first met Reid a year earlier, and Reid promised then to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by the end of the year. It didn't happen.
So when they met again, Choi gave his ring to Reid to remind the senator of his promise.
"No one can do it any more than he can. He's the most powerful senator," Choi said at the time.
Reid promised to return the ring when the ban was lifted, and today he delivered. Reid handed the blue-stoned graduation ring back to its rightful owner.
"You ever think you'd get it back?," Reid asked Choi during a meeting in Washington, D.C.
"I didn't know," Choi replied.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect for 17 years. President Barack Obama today signed legislation eradicating the policy and thanked Reid for pushing the repeal through.
Choi also praised Reid for his tenacity in getting the legislation passed.
"You ask any gay advocate or gay American, they would have never thought that this would happen," Choi said. "Today, history was not only made but lives were saved...There are many who are continuing to stay in the closet, and most people don't understand how traumatic it is to hide an essential part of your identity and your family. Today was a repudiation of that shame, and it was a refusal to acquiesce to second class citizenship."