With an eye toward the Iowa caucuses in January that will officially mark the start of the 2008 presidential elections, the Human Rights Campaign began its national “A Legacy of Service” tour against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in Des Moines, Iowa, this week.

The national tour features the voices of a diverse group of veterans who have served under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first U.S. service member wounded in Iraq, along with many other American heroes will speak out for the repeal of this discriminatory policy that continues to harm our nation’s security.

“This national tour will show the faces of those who have served and sacrificed under this discriminatory policy,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said.

“The American people have already overwhelmingly decided that our military should be about service and not about holding on to policies that dishonour our troops.”

The kick off for the tour came just days after the Democratic and Republican presidential debates aired live on CNN, where the issue of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” took centre stage.

When asked to raise their hand if they support the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, every Democratic candidate raised their hand in support of repeal.

Standing in stark contrast, not a single Republican candidate spoke out in support of repealing the policy.

“During the beginning of the 2008 presidential election, this tour will ensure that the debate around repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is focused on the real issue at hand,” continued Solmonese.

“Those candidates running to be the next commander in chief will have to decide if they believe the sexual orientation of an Arabic linguist is more important than their ability to potentially decode the next piece of intelligence that could finally capture Osama Bin Laden.”

The six-stop tour includes Phoenix, Orlando, Palm Springs, Seattle and New Hampshire.

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