Former Alaskan and gay rights advocate named to inauguration committee

Lawrence Jackson

A man whose armed forces career ended in Alaska when his commanding officers learned he is gay is now among the co-chairs for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

David Hall was a top cadet in his Air Force ROTC class at the University of Alaska Anchorage when he confided in another cadet about his sexual orientation and fell under investigation in 2002, according to Anchorage Daily News stories at the time.

He was dishonorably discharged from the program and in 2004 joined a lawsuit challenging the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Today, Hall is one of eight Americans featured by President Barack Obama as "citizen co-chairs" of the presidential inauguration. The new role was created to highlight Obama's first-term accomplishments with examples of lives that have either been improved by his actions or inspired his presidency.

Other honorees announced Thursday include a woman with a brain tumor who no longer is denied health care for a pre-existing condition and an autoworker who got her job back after the General Motors bailout.

Inauguration officials said the president has met most of the eight individuals during his first term and their inclusion in inaugural events is meant to showcase his administration's core values through real-life examples that people across the country can relate to.

Inaugural planners say this is the first time people affected by a president's policies have been given such an official title at an inauguration.

The eight were scheduled to participate in the National Day of Service on Saturday, kicking off the inaugural events over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. That's the president's call for Americans to serve their communities to honor King's legacy.

After Obama's swearing-in ceremony Monday, the eight co-chairs will ride on an inaugural parade float highlighting the inaugural theme of "Our People: Our Future," then attend the official balls that night.

Hall is director of development and information technology manager for OutServe-SLDN, a nonprofit that advocates for the civil rights of gay and lesbian military personnel. The group provides free legal services to soldiers and other service members who experience discrimination or harassment in the military.

He started his military career in the Air Force, serving five years and rising to the rank of staff sergeant, according to his biography on the OutServe-SLDN website.

Hall was assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base and began taking classes at UAA, aiming for a bachelor's degree in science and technology, according to Daily News accounts.

He did not tell people in the Air Force he was gay and it was during this period, training to become a pilot in the officer corps, when an inquiry into his sexual orientation ended his career, according to news accounts at the time.

After leaving the military, Hall fought for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Hall recently told the network he hopes Obama will strengthen the rights of same-sex married couples in his second term.

 

 



Daily News staff and wire reports