Nightly News | December 20, 2011
>>> tomorrow will mark one year to the day that president obama signed the repeal of the u.s. military policy known as don't ask, don't tell, banning openly gay and lesbian service members. just today a sign of the times . two women shared the traditional first kiss after the u.s.s. oak hills returned to home port in virginia. sailors and their families buy dollar raffle tickets for the chance at it. those two women happened to win it. critics said changing this law would never work in the real world of combat. tonight, nbc's jim maceda takes one measure of the change on the ground with some of america's troops in afghanistan .
>> reporter: task force bulldog, on patrol in eastern afghanistan . it's the kind of combat unit that would implode, critics warned, if don't ask, don't tell were repealed.
>> get ready to move!
>> reporter: but the chaos they predicted if openly gay and lesbian soldiers served in close quarters during combat never happened.
>> i don't think anything's really changed at all.
>> reporter: staff sergeant chris bostik is on his third combat tour, a squad leader .
>> every one of my soldiers know i'm gay. they know who i am and what i stand for.
>> reporter: how do his straight buddies see it?
>> if you want to fight for our country, i don't care what you do.
>> reporter: the repeal divided the country when a year ago president obama lifted the ban on gays, lesbians and bisexuals serving openly. now soldiers from grunts to top brass, even u.s. marines have embraced the law. so far, no reports of incidents like hazing or gay bashing . behind front lines at large bases like bag ram airfield, groups of gays and lesbians meet publically. a coffee hour unheard of only months ago.
>> is it easier to be a soldier?
>> definitely. just knowing you won't be kicked out or have difficulties because of what you say.
>> reporter: 13,000 gays were discharged during don't ask, don't tell. half of these worried about reaction among peers. but hundreds, perhaps thousands of gay soldiers have posted their own coming out videos on youtube, often to their own families.
>> dad, i'm gay.
>> reporter: this phone call home by airman randy phillips based in germany to tell his family he's gay went viral erin jones now tells anyone who asks that she's lesbian.
>> i always felt like a part of me died every time i had to say, oh, my boyfriend, oh, this guy i have been talking to when i didn't mean that.
>> reporter: even james amos , once against lifting the ban now supports it.
>> i'm a little bit more proud of my unit and my country for taking this kind of step.
>> reporter: allowing soldiers -- straight or gay -- to excel as they always have in war, but now to do it freely. jim maceda, nbc news, logar, afghanistan .