Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Whenever we send out a press release here at SLDN, we always hope the media takes note. But no matter how important the news SLDN reports might be - from the 'coming out' of Darren Manzella
on 60 Minutes
to the growing number of local city councils calling for repeal
- we know we'll always have to compete with other compelling stories for page space in the papers or airtime on the TV.
At least one person, though, thinks we're doing a pretty good job.
Behold the power of the SLDN press release.
In an article published today
by CNSNews.com, conservative pundit Elaine Donnelly
, she of the Center for Military Readiness
, lauds the power of SLDN's press operation, and gives us some much appreciated kudos for our hard work here in the communications department.
"Newspapers like The New York Times
, The Washington Post
, USA Today
never miss publishing any news release that comes out from the advocates for gays in the military, no matter how often it happens," Donnelly told CNS
And the December 16 edition of 60 Minutes
- featuring SLDN client Manzella and board member Cholene Espinoza
- was somewhat of the crown jewel of SLDN PR, it seems. The story was "a relentless public service campaign" on SLDN's behalf, Donnelly says.
(Nevermind that Donnelly favorite Duncan Hunter
was on the broadcast, representing the other side of the issue. Or that correspondent Lesley Stahl even interviewed an active duty Army Major about his opposition to repeal. Perhaps Elaine had turned off the set by the time they made it onto the screen.)
So thanks for shout out, Elaine! It's good to know that we're capturing your attention. And when we finally win this fight, and open service prevails, maybe I'll even send along an autographed copy of the press release announcing our victory.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Darren Manzella, elaine donnelly, in the news, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-26-07 Comment (0)
Many of you have asked how you can get a DVD copy of the December 16th 60 Minutes
story featuring Army Sergeant Darren Manzella
and SLDN board member Cholene Espinoza
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" segment will be released on DVD by CBS News on January 1st. And, it is available now for pre-order from Amazon.com
Also stayed tuned to Frontlines
for information, in the coming week, about Sergeant Manzella's first public appearances following the story. We'll be releasing dates and locations - along with information on where to join SLDN for special events with Darren - soon.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Darren Manzella, sldn clients, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-22-07 Comment (0)
The holidays can be an especially trying time for our men and women in uniform, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” makes this time of year even more difficult
for our LGBT service members. The holiday season does not end the often long separations between loved ones and family, and it’s no surprise that calls for assistance to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network tend to increase as the year draws to a close.
This holiday, all of us at SLDN want all of those serving our country to know: you are not alone.
Whether you are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait or Germany, our thoughts are with you. Whether you are on duty here at home, or serving half a world away, we are grateful for your service. During the holidays, and every day, all of us at SLDN salute you, honor you and fight alongside you. And even though we cannot be with you in person, we are with you in spirit.
The SLDN staff
and military advisory council
also send a heartfelt thank you to the thousands of supporters and donors who make our work possible. Because of your generosity, the men and women we serve never serve alone.
This holiday, SLDN remembers the kindness of our allies and the courage of our troops. Because of you, the New Year is filled with new possibilities.
- Aubrey Sarvis
12-21-07 Comment (0)
For the wives and husbands of service members stationed abroad, the holidays can be as challenging as they are joyous. For the partners of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members those challenges are often multiplied because of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Because of this fact, we have asked diversity expert, Trey Malicoat
to share with us some suggestions on how the partners of gay and lesbian service members can celebrate the holidays without succumbing to the holiday blues.
1. Remember the rituals and traditions and keep them. If you normally have friends and family over for a meal, do it this year too. Set a special place at the table for your partner and offer a toast in their. Ask your guests to share a funny story about your partner and share the evening with the “spirit” of the one you love. Let people know it is ok to talk about your partner, to ask about him or her.
2. Surround yourself with caring friends and family! Plan outings and get-togethers. Play games, cook meals, decorate -- just because you are away from your lover doesn’t mean you can’t keep them alive in your heart.
3. Buy or make a gift for your loved one and then find a special place in your home to display it. Place their photo by the gift and write a note of love and appreciation that you attach to the gift. If your loved one is on an extended tour and you do not know when they'll return, place special notes and gifts in the same place: a Christmas gift, a Valentine's note, a Birthday present. Tell your partner about the display and how when they return the two of you can celebrate by opening each gift.
4. If you are anticipating a lonely holiday, offer to volunteer at a local charity. Check your local phone book to find a place to serve. If you are unable to find someone to serve, go to the local gay or lesbian bar, but DON’T plan on getting drunk! Go with the intention of sharing a little hope with other lonely people. Take a pocketful of candy canes and give them away as a conversation opener. Who knows, you might just meet a new friend. Feel the freedom too, to talk about your partner at war. You can honor your loved one by sharing them with others.
5. Make a special ornament for your partner. If you are not crafty ask for help, pick up a magazine with craft ideas, or invite a crafty friend to help you. You can make a photo collage or write a love note. If you are completely stuck, spend a few hours shopping for a special ornament that symbolizes your love for your partner.
6. If the holiday tradition thing doesn’t work for you, plan to fill the days with lots of activity. Clean out your closets, organize your photos, clean the garage --bottom line, get yourself out of bed and do something! Talk to friends, take a walk, go to the mall, or see a movie.
7. Make a memory CD with all your favorite music or photos that make you feel good. Share the CD with friends and family and send a copy to your lover in the field. As you listen to the music, think about the good and the bad times you and your partner have had. Think about why you are together and what you will do when you see your lover again.
8. Put the word out for the strays! Tell your friends and family that you plan on opening your home for the holiday meal, set the time and assign pieces of the meal to others who attend to come. Set the stage for what people can expect...“I have invited an eclectic group of friends who really don’t know each other. We are all strays who need a place to spend the holiday and so we are going to make the best of it. We will have a great pot luck meal, drink some wine, and get to know each other. Who knows, we might even develop some new friendships!”
9. Don’t let grief and sorrow get the best of you. Shed tears and express your feelings. Know that grief and sorrow only last a moment, then you will have an opportunity for joy. Anticipate times in the day when grief is most powerful (late at night, or in the morning) and change your routine. If you get lonely at night, join a book club or call a friend. If the mornings are difficult, go to the gym or sit in a coffee shop and read the paper. When grief hits, grab a journal and write. Read your previous entries and look for times when you survived your sorrows.
10. Walk down memory lane -- often. Look at photo albums, listen to music you and your partner love, think about the good and the hard times. When tears flow, let them. Feeelings need to be expressed. They will come out through your tears, your words, your writing, your art. The goal is to get the pain out.
Keeping the home fires burning is a difficult and often lonely experience, especially during holidays. Just remember to take care of yourself as you would hope that your partner is taking care of themselves. When they return, you will have much to share with one another!
12-21-07 Comment (0)
Well, we are pleased to announce the arrival of our 4th episode of On Duty, SLDN's official podcast. As the last podcast in the year, it was appropriate to do a "Year in Review", a brief overview of the accomplishments of SLDN in battling Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
With more than 450 subscribers and over 1,000 hits after only 3 episodes, we are confident that On Duty will continue to be a smash hit as we roll in to the new year.
You can check out Episode 4, go to our Video Page
on our website. You may need to set the pause button and come back after a few minutes if you have a slower Internet connection.
You can also subscribe
to On Duty through your favorite podcasting agent like iTunes and download the episode straight to your media device to watch whenever you'd like.
Labels: on duty, podcast
12-21-07 Comment (1)
At most US colleges and universities, LGBT student and alumni organizations are a standard fixture, contributing to the diversity and rich social fabric that are an essential part of the higher education experience. However, you won’t find LGBT student groups at the US service academies. Because of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," gay and lesbian cadets, midshipmen and officer graduates are required to be secretive about this important aspect of who they are.
In June of this year, 13 alums gathered on a conference call to form Blue Alliance
- LGBT Alumni of the US Air Force Academy. And now, after just six months, Blue Alliance has grown to over 70 alumni members.
is a support and education network for Air Force Academy alumni. Our primary goals are to insure that LGBT Air Force cadets and officers know that they are not alone, and to provide them with more resources to thrive in a hostile environment. Blue Alliance is also developing partnerships with straight allies that work toward improving the environment for LGBT Air Force Academy cadets and graduates.
While there is a lot of work to do, Blue Alliance
has greatly benefited from the examples developed by USNA Out
and from the support of SLDN
Off We Go!
- Darrel Slack, USAFA 1985
Labels: Service Academies, veterans
12-21-07 Comment (0)
Smack in the middle of America lies Kansas, one of the rectangular great plains states. And smack in the middle of Kansas lies – Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, with a population around 40,000, is known as the Salt City. Hutchinson’s most important recent historic achievement is the fact that the high school football team -the Salthawks
- has had five straight appearances, including four straight wins, in the 6A State Championship Game.
Hutchinson has a Republican state representative, a Republican state senator, a Republican Congressman, and two Republican Senators.
And Hutchinson’s newspaper, Hutch News, has the most recent editorial
demanding repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Citing the recent 60 Minutes story
on Darren Manzella
, an Army Sergeant retained by his command despite being openly gay, the editorial board writes:
Whether a workplace is a field of combat or an office, valued employees such as Manzella
never should be penalized for disclosing to employers their sexual orientation. Their job performances should say it all.
Middle America has spoken. 79% of the American people
have made their views clear. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be repealed.
Let’s hope Congress listens, because as the Hutch News says: It is about time.
Labels: julie kruse, support
12-20-07 Comment (0)
The holidays will be a whole lot brighter for the Manzella family, who are looking forward to welcoming a very special guest home.
Many of you have called and emailed about what's next for Sergeant Darren Manzella
, the SLDN client who was featured on Sunday's 60 Minutes story
about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Today, we can give you the first update on Darren's story.
Sergeant Manzella arrived back in the United States yesterday with his unit, returning from a long tour in Kuwait. He got back to his base in the States yesterday, safe and sound.
As you can imagine, his CBS
appearance on Sunday has caused quite the buzz among his fellow troops, but Darren reports to SLDN
Now, of course, Darren's thoughts are turning to the upcoming holidays. And, we're happy to report, it looks like he'll likely be able to spend Christmas at home with parents and siblings, who are all immensely
proud of him.
I called Darren's mom & dad just a few minutes ago to let them know that SLDN is working hard to get him home for the holidays.
To say they are excited . . . proud . . . and looking forward to seeing him is an understatement. (Darren's mom has shared just a few
tears with me on the phone many times throughout this process.) Their support for Darren has been unwavering, and their commitment to joining him in the fight to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has inspired and moved all of us at the SLDN office.
But first, there's a well-deserved holiday break on the horizon for Sergeant Manzella and a homecoming that two wonderful parents have been waiting for . . . for a very
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Darren Manzella, sldn clients, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-20-07 Comment (5)
blogger Bil Browning has a post up on his site
about reaction from his partner's mom to Sunday's 60 Minutes story
on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
As Bil points out, the story made an impression on Sherry, his partner Jerame's mom.
Here's an excerpt from his excellent post
This morning Sherry called to ask me if I'd seen "60 Minutes, 20/20
, whatever in the hell that show was that had gay soldiers on it." She meant the 60 Minutes piece on openly gay soldier Darren Manzella
that Steve had blogged about. While I hadn't watched the show, his post had tipped me off that it was coming up.
"I knew you'd know about it. You know everything gay. You got that website."
I think that was a compliment.
She was seriously livid after watching 60 Minutes. She went on a 20 minute diatribe about the injustices of Don't Ask Don't Tell and how it all fed into stuff like the marriage amendment and the daily issues that the LGBT family face.
"You get on that there blog and you tell 'em Jerame's mom says 'That ain't right,'" she said. "Don't nobody care anymore. They's lettin' 'em stay in there now even when they tell. The troops ain't got no problem with it. You are who you are."
What's even better is that there was some other woman there (I have no idea who she was) that was also chiming in and getting all worked up too. Between the two of them it was hard to hear! But even though I know all the reasons why DADT is bad policy and how Indiana's proposed amendment will hurt some families, I listened and I "listened good."
I heard more than Jerame's mom. You can too if you listen hard enough.
That's the sound of change, my friends.
You can read Bil's full Bilerico.com post here
- Steve Ralls
Labels: bilerico, other blogs, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-20-07 Comment (0)
For many Americans, the holiday season is an opportunity to reunite with one another and make merry. Yet, for gay military personnel the holidays often bring with them heightened awareness of the costs they pay serving under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
In a recent article
, reporter Jennifer Vanasco interviews current and former gay service members and examines the extraordinary precautions, and cruel limitations, that patriotic gay Americans must endure in order to serve their country.
"The holidays bring up memories, expectations," says therapist Trey Malicoat. "There are more parties, more activities, there's a financial drain. For gay soldiers, there's the added burden of not being able to talk about home, about where he or she would like to be, about the person who has the most significance in his or her life."
These issues are not limited to personnel serving abroad. Elizabeth, an Army officer who last year married her partner in Massachusetts, tells Vanasco about the constraints she has experienced while stationed stateside. "At lunch, people are talking about what presents they're going to buy their wife or girlfriend – I'm part of the group but I can't be part of the discussion," says Elizabeth. "It's very difficult to abide by the policy and not talk about what's really going on in your life and at the same time try to connect with your fellow service members."
Problems can be even more acute for service members stationed abroad. Retired Naval Cheif, Lee Quillian relates an experience she had while serving on a ship in the Middle East during the holidays. "All the other sailors were going to a special room to film video messages to their sweethearts. But not Quillian. She didn't record a message. She couldn't. Because her partner is a woman," writes Vanasco.
Service members are not the only ones affected by the policy, families and loved ones back home also suffer. As this article shows, heterosexual families receive many benefits which are unavailable to same-sex families because of the ban on open service. "The military has an excellent support system for family members left behind that includes counseling, a newsletter updating families on unit activities, and support groups and networks. But gay partners of service members can't take advantage of any of that. If they do, they risk outing their partner – who under the policy will then lose their job," writes Vanasco.
SLDN has long been a leader in advocating for the rights of same-sex military families and recently contributed an article
on this emerging area of the law to the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy.
In the article, SLDN highlights the stories of three service members and their families, drawing attention to the issues same-sex families face because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
So, as many of us gather with our families this holiday season, let us remember that the costs of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" go far beyond dollars spent and troops deployed. This season, let us tally the price of this law in the millions of small happinesses that we continue to deny those who are fighting for our country, simply because of who they are.
12-19-07 Comment (0)
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