Openly Gay Army Sergeant Discharged Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Organization Points to More Openly Gay Service Members Serving Without Incident WA
Posted on June 27, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Organization Points to More Openly Gay Service Members Serving Without Incident
WASHINGTON, DC — Decorated Army Sergeant Darren Manzella has been discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from military service, effective June 10. The Iraq war veteran was the first openly gay active duty service member to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone. In December 2007, Manzella was profiled by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. He told correspondent Lesley Stahl that he served openly during much of his time in the Army, with the full support of his colleagues and command.
“The discharge of battle-tested, talented service members like Sergeant Manzella weakens our military in a time of war. National security requires that Congress lift the ban on gays in the military and allow commanders to judge troops on their qualifications, not their sexuality,” said Adam Ebbin, Communications Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
SLDN reports that a growing number of service members are also serving openly without incident. The organization is aware of more than 500 troops who are ‘out’ to their colleagues and, in some cases, their commands.
Sergeant Manzella said, “My sexual orientation certainly didn’t make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad. It shouldn’t be a factor in allowing me to continue to serve.”
Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service.
For more information on Sergeant Manzella, SLDN and the campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” visit www.sldn.org .
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit www.sldn.org .
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