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Obama Pardons Gay Man Discharged from Military

U.S. Military

With a new president on the horizon, President Barack Obama has put his last week in office to important use. He’s ordered the release of 1,400 federal inmates serving for minimum-sentencing laws. In addition, he commuted the sentences of 209 people, including trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who was seven years into her 45-year sentence.

Related | President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence

Obama also pardoned 64 people this week, one of which was Peter Heidgerd. In 1989, Heidgerd was a captain in the military, convicted for “conduct unbecoming of an officer” when it was discovered he was in a same-sex relationship with a fellow soldier. He was imprisoned for a year in Fort Leavenworth, where Manning is currently serving out the remainder of her commuted sentence.

The pardoning will wipe the felony conviction from Heidgerd’s record. It’s a burden that prevented him from gaining employment. However, he remained hopeful which he credits to his faith in Jesus.

“I didn’t let this whole thing get me down,” Heidgerd told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I didn’t need a president to pardon me, but this helps.”

Though it's not yet clear whether Obama’s pardon will change the status of Heidgerd’s discharge, his attorney expects that information to be included in an official letter from the president.

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