Spires v. James
In 1948 the United States Air Force discharged Ed Spires with an Undesirable discharge for being gay. Mr. Spires waited nearly seventy years for the Air Force to recognize that he faithfully served his country. In late 2016 at age 91 Mr. Spires was hospitalized and almost died while in the intensive care unit for pneumonia. Upon his death, Mr. Spires’s wish is to have a military burial, which he could not do without a discharge upgrade.
After the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, Mr. Spires was finally eligible for a discharge upgrade. The Air Force denied Mr. Spires’s application in 2014 and in spring 2016 rejected a renewed application, which was later reopened. On November 18, 2016, Mr. Spires filed a lawsuit in the District of Connecticut in order to compel the Air Force to grant him the discharge status his faithful service in the U.S. Air Force as a Chaplain’s Assistant deserves. On January 6, 2017 the AFBCMR announced that they have upgraded Mr. Spires’s status to an Honorable discharge. Mr. Spires will now be eligible for military honors at his funeral.
AFBCMR Decision (January 5, 2017)
Press Release (November 18, 2016)
Press Conference video (November 18, 2016)
Editorial: Give 91-Year-Old Gay Veteran His Honorable Discharge, The Hartford Courant, Nov. 21, 2016.
Daniela Altimari, 68 Years Later, Gay Air Force Vet Seeking Honorable Discharge, The Hartford Courant, Nov. 18, 2016.
Jessica Chia, Air Force veteran, 91, files lawsuit to receive honorable discharge nearly 70 years after he was ousted from the military for being gay, Dailymail.com, Nov. 20, 2016.
Jason Silverstein, Gay Air Force veteran sues to earn honorable discharge 68 years after getting kicked out, New York Daily News, Nov. 20, 2016.