'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Protesters Chain Themselves to White House Fence

"It has been one of the greatest things. I grew as a person. You know, you have the support. You have the encouragement to be a better solider. You have someone to share your very difficult times with," he said. "I was able to experience that and how can I lie and keep quiet because it's so good."

Pietrangelo was in the Vermont National Guard when he was discharged in 2004. The Supreme Court denied his review of an appeal to legally challenge the "don't ask, don't tell' policy.

"I think this decision is an absolute travesty of justice and I think every judge on this court should be ashamed of themselves," Pietrangelo said at the time. The former soldier served six years in the Army, seven years in the Vermont National Guard and fought in Iraq in 1991. "It's nothing short of rubber-stamping legalized discrimination."

As protesters gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on "don't ask, don't tell" today. Senators heard from a former Marine general who favors keeping the law in place and from two junior officers with compelling stories of how they were forced out of the military they wanted to serve in.

Gen. John Sheehan made the argument that unit cohesion would be affected by having openly gay servicemen serving. Former Air Force Maj. Michael Almy and former Navy Lt. JG Jenny Kopfstein countered that unit cohesion was affected by their discharges, not their presence in the unit.

Almy was outed after his fourth tour in Iraq when a personal e-mail folder was reviewed by his new unit commander. Kopfstein has said that she decided she couldn't live with herself in hiding her sexual orientation from others and found supportive commanding officers who stood up for her when she was being discharged.

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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