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Furor fades a year after military's gay ban lifted

BY DAVID CRARY, AP NATIONAL WRITER

NEW YORK -- They are images Americans had never seen before. Jubilant young men and women in military uniforms marching beneath a rainbow flag in a gay-pride parade. Soldiers and sailors returning from deployment and, in time-honored tradition, embracing their beloved - only this time with same-sex kisses.

It's been a year now since the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed, enabling gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly, no longer forced to lie and keep their personal lives under wraps.

The Pentagon says repeal has gone smoothly, with no adverse effect on morale, recruitment or readiness. President Barack Obama cites it as a signature achievement of his first term, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, says he would not push to reverse the change if elected in place of Obama.

Some critics persist with complaints that repeal has infringed on service members whose religious faiths condemn homosexuality. Instances of anti-gay harassment have not ended. And activists are frustrated that gay and lesbian military families don't yet enjoy the benefits and services extended to other military families.

Yet the clear consensus is that repeal has produced far more joy and relief than dismay and indignation. There's vivid evidence in photographs that have rocketed across cyberspace, such as the military contingent marching in San Diego's gay pride parade and Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan leaping into the arms of his boyfriend after returning from six months in Afghanistan.

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