Tracy W. Thorne|
(1967 - living) U.S.A.
Bill Clinton had promised to lift the ban on gays in the military. Partially because of this optimism, Navy Bombardier-Navigator Tracy Thorne disclosed his sexual orientation on the ABC news program Nightline. Thorne was 25 and based at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia when his TV appearance occurred. He grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., and graduated from Vanderbilt University.
Thorne appeared on the ABC news program in May of 1992 to urge an end to the ban then in place on military service by homosexuals. During the program, he disclosed his sexual orientation. Within days of his television appearance, the Navy notified Thorne of discharge proceedings.
He was not discharged, however, until March 6, 1995. In the interim, Thorne was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for "superb leadership, exceptional professionalism and total devotion to duty.'' Thorne was a reservist by the time of his honorable discharge for "homosexual admission.''
He sued, contending that the military's policy violated his free-speech and equal-protection rights. A federal judge and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him.