Aspin, Les

Aspin, Les

(Leslie Aspin, Jr.), 1938–95, U.S. politician and government official, b. Milwaukee, Wis. Running as a Democrat opposed to the Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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, he won election as a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin in 1970. Reelected 10 times, he served in the House until 1993. In 1985 he became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and in that position supported many aspects of President Ronald ReaganReagan, Ronald Wilson
, 1911–2004, 40th president of the United States (1981–89), b. Tampico, Ill. In 1932, after graduation from Eureka College, he became a radio announcer and sportscaster.
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's military buildup. From 1993 to 1994 Aspin was Secretary of Defense under President Bill ClintonClinton, Bill
(William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his
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. He oversaw the easing of restrictions on homosexuals in the military (see gay-rights movementgay-rights movement,
organized efforts to end the criminalization of homosexuality and protect the civil rights of homosexuals. While there was some organized activity on behalf of the rights of homosexuals from the mid-19th through the first half of the 20th cent.
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) and expanded the role of women in the armed forces, but ill health and criticism of his management of the Defense Dept. led him to resign.
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