Tens of thousands of gay servicemembers have been kicked out of the U.S. military both before and after the adoption of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. And with the U.S. Senate’s December, 2010 vote to repeal that policy, it is fitting we remember the very first discharged – Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin.
It all started when Enslin arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam in 1774. Three years later he joined the Continential Army. In 1778, he was brought to trial and tried for attempting to commit sodomy. Found guilty, General George Washington himself approved the sentence.
On March 11, 1778, Lieutenant Enslin was drummed out of the military. With his coat turned inside out, and all the drums and fifes in the army in full cadence, he marched away over the horizon — never to be seen again.