Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Yes, friends, it's time to check in with our favorite hair & nail salon buddy, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness
. Elaine has been a busy girl, what with trying to make sense of Sunday's 60 Minutes story and
trying to find a presidential candidate
far enough out of step with reality that she can throw her support behind them.
First, Elaine was thoroughly confused
by the premise behind Sunday's 60 Minutes
report, from Lesley Stahl, about the increasing number of gays serving openly and the public outrage at the continued dismissal of gay personnel. Our girl in Michigan just could not
wrap her mind around the idea that, while some commanders are appreciating the service of their gay troops, the continued dismissal of 2 service members each day is still unacceptable.
Time to wake up, Elaine: In today's military, when recruitment and retention is struggling, at best, to keep up with the needs of the forces, losing even one qualified service member like Sergeant Darren Manzella is outrageous; losing more than 600 in a year is beyond counter-productive to our national security.
But Ms. Donnelly, bless her heart, just doesn't get it. Instead, she attacks CBS News
, calling Sunday's story "sensational" and "a conspiracy theory that reflected negatively on the military as a whole."
The military, Elaine thinks, would look far better if they'd just go ahead and fire all the women and gays. I imagine she'd like the former at home, barefoot and pregnant, and the latter spending their time choosing her hair color.
But I digress. Elaine has other problems, too. She's having trouble finding a presidential contender far enough to the right to get behind.
Writing on a right-wing blog today
, Elaine bemoans the fact that so many of the presidential contenders won't commit to returning to a policy of "asking" about sexual orientation in the armed forces.
Mike Huckabee, she notes, said earlier this year that (gasp!) "I’m not sure that being homosexual should automatically disqualify a person from the military. If a person can do his or her job, you know that’s not for me the biggest issue." Scratch him off her Christmas card list.
When he briefly challenged Hillary Clinton for the Senate in 1999, Giuliani "agreed with her support for professed homosexuals in the military," and Romney actually "secured the endorsement of the pro-gay Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans by signing a letter supporting 'gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military.'" And McCain, she says, had the audacity to call the law "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Ron Paul would only tell CMR that the current law is "adequate for the time-being."
Only Fred Thompson (who, Elaine writes, "endorses the proper purpose of the military") and that good ol' stand-by, Duncan Hunter, seem to have a shot at winning Elaine's heart. Duncan, she gushes like a school girl, "has shown consistent leadership on military social issues. In 1993 he supported 'the question' about homosexuality that used to be on induction forms."
Elaine loves that "question" almost as much as she must love Chanel No. 5.
But not everybody has as much love for Elaine as I.
"None of the Democratic candidates responded to CMR Presidential Survey questions," she says, "but we are not entirely ignorant of their positions." That's because each of the Democratic candidates, of course, support open service. And that sends poor Elaine's well-coiffed head spinning 'round and 'round.
It all makes me want to paraphrase those credit card commercials we hear so often this time of year:
Sacrificing Readiness in the Name of Ignorant Prejudice: $363.8 million
Watching the Prejudiced Try to Plead (Not Entirely) Ignorant: Priceless.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Darren Manzella, elaine donnelly, in the news, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-18-07 Comment (0)
I was excited to have the opportunity to speak out against “Don't Ask Don't Tell” on 60 Minutes
The actual interview lasted about an hour and, while we covered a broad range of topics, Lesley Stahl seemed to steer the conversation towards a discussion on the effects of the policy in our lives and of the lives of those around us.
While this was an amazing opportunity to talk about the changing attitudes in the military towards gay service members. We four service members were addressing the issue from a front line perspective. Just imagine, though, what it might have been like had we been able to converse directly with the obtuse politician and Army Major about their positions on the archaic status quo!
There are empty ranks in critical skill sets, linguists that help prevent engagements with the enemy and medics that save lives when we do. 12,000 men and women have been discharged since the inception of the policy. Change is on the horizon and that makes people uncomfortable. We like to stay in our comfort zone and unfortunately the fear of change is affecting our nation's military readiness.
- Brian Fricke
Labels: SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-17-07 Comment (1)
Sunday, SLDN invited supporters out to DC's Duplex Diner for a special viewing of last night's 60 Minutes which featured Army Sergeant Darren Manzella
and SLDN Board Member Cholene Epsinoza
. The staff have been working for the better part of the year on the 60 Minutes piece and in bringing a much needed spotlight to an antiquated issue.
Pictured above is the scene where more than 100 people crowded D.C.'s Duplex Diner to watch the long-awaited 60 Minutes segment. With a fair share of boo's and hoorah's, the crowd was overwhelming pleased at the newest attack against the discriminatory law and its repeal efforts. With each and every step we take, we get closer and closer to the day when lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members will no longer serve with the fear of loosing their jobs because of who there are.
Labels: SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-17-07 Comment (0)
Last night, after watching Lesley Stahl's report
on 60 Minutes
with Army Sergeant Darren Manzella
(pictured), I sent an email to Darren, letting him know how proud we all are of him, and asking if he had any thoughts to share with SLDN's supporters.
From Washington to Kuwait and back again, here's an exclusive SLDN conversation with Darren.
What motivated you to come out on 60 Minutes?
I saw a chance that so few individuals have the opportunity to participate in. I saw a chance to get on national television and just tell my story and try to relay to millions of Americans how hurtful the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is to this country's military. It was an opportunity to notify the country that I am open about my homosexuality to my command and colleagues and that the Army has not fallen apart due to my confession.
After notifying your command and colleagues of the story, what has been their reaction?
I have not recieved any notification, positive or negative, from my command since I notified them of my participation in the story or since the broadcasting of the segment.
As someone serving on the frontlines, what do you hear from other troops about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” What do you think is the future of the law?
I have served with many men and women in Iraq, Kuwait and throughout the United States. In my opinion, they do not care if a service member is gay or straight. These men and women are my brothers and sisters in arms and I am the same to them. I know that what matters to most is not the sexual orientation of the person in your unit. What matters most is if that person is a good worker, a team player and most importantly, if that person has your back when it rewally matters whether it be in a combat zone, during a training exercise or day to day operations. I think that a majority of troops are in favor, or at the very least indifferent, to the repeal of this policy. I find that many are surprised that so much power and influence over the fate of this policy lies in the hands of individuals who are not even in the ranks of the military.
What do you want SLDN supporters to know about your experience, the 60 Minutes story and the campaign to repeal this law?
I would like the supporters of SLDN to know that when I first came out to my command I felt alone. Like I was an individual that did something wrong. Now I feel like part of family and I know that this family will always be supportive and protective of me. I feel pride as well. I am so proud to be a part of something that may soon bring down a policy that forces individuals to remain silent and not publicly confess who they truly are.
I am so blessed to have the staff at SLDN work with me and assist me. They have been my backbone in every phase that I have gone through, from my coming out to my command to my notifying them of the 60 Minutes episode broadcast. To have people be so devoted to helping you give a voice to thousands of gay and lesbian service members is a feeling that I never thought I would experience.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Darren Manzella, sldn clients, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-17-07 Comment (9)
I hope you tuned in last night to see Army Sergeant Darren Manzella
, and other brave gay patriots who have served in our armed forces, talk to 60 Minutes about life under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the fight to repeal this un-fair and un-American law. All of us at SLDN are inspired by the courage of these service members and veterans, and we are more committed than ever to winning the battle for fairness in our military.
Now, we need you to join Darren and SLDN to get rid of the ban on gay troops.
You can become an important part of our efforts by joining our 60 in 6 campaign
. Over the next 6 days, we want to raise enough funds to help 60 more service members like Darren. We will put your tax-deductible gift to immediate use by providing free legal services to our troops and lobbying Congress to repeal this law.
SLDN never charges for our services, and we never turn away a service member impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Providing that critical lifeline, however, can cost up to $10,000 per client. Add to that the support we need to make our lobbying, grassroots and communications efforts a success, and you’ll understand why we need your help to win this historic victory. With allies from across the country, we are making progress.
If you were moved by Darren’s story, and as inspired by his courage, as we were, please consider a gift
of $60, $600 or even $6000 in support of SLDN’s work. Your gift will help ensure we make repeal a reality.
Every day, SLDN is proud to stand up for men and women like Darren and work to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
- Aubrey Sarvis
Labels: aubrey sarvis, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-17-07 Comment (0)
. . . for exclusive post-60 Minutes
news from SLDN and the men and women in Sunday's segment
We'll have thoughts from former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke
(pictured), who is in Sunday's story, about what he thinks the impact of Lesley Stahl's report will be. We will also have a message from SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis
about how you can become more involved in SLDN's work to lift the ban. We'll even have photos from tonight's D.C. viewing party at Duplex Diner
(beginning at 6pm, for supporters who would like to join SLDN in celebrating this historic story).
And we'll have an exclusive Q & A with Sergeant Darren Manzella
, the SLDN client in tonight's report, about what his colleagues' reactions have been . . . his thoughts on 60 Minutes
. . . and news about what he'll do next.
So come back tomorrow for more reports. We'll be here, bringing you the latest news and updates about all things related to Sunday's show.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: brian fricke, Darren Manzella, in the news, sldn clients, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-16-07 Comment (1)
. . . and CBS News
has just released a sneak peek at Sunday's 60 Minutes
story on Sergeant Darren Manzella
, SLDN and the campaign to lift the ban.
for an excerpt that includes an interview with Sergeant Manzella and SLDN board member Cholene Espinoza
for a segment profiling Manzella; and here
for a reporters notebook about Sunday's story with correspondent Lesley Stahl.
And for more information, visit the official 60 Minutes website
. Then tune in on Sunday at 7/6c for Stahl's full report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
- Steve Ralls
Labels: in the news, SLDN on 60 Minutes, video
12-14-07 Comment (0)
Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick
. . .
The unmistakable sound of the 60 Minutes
stopwatch always makes me stop what I’m doing and listen to the evening line-up for America’s most watched news show
. My eager attentiveness comes from the fact that over the course of the 25+ years I’ve been an avid watcher, I’ve noted that 60 Minutes
is a catalyst for historic change.
As a cadet at the Air Force Academy in the 80s, I watched 60 Minutes
bring South African Apartied to America’s living rooms - and eventually Apartheid ended. I’ve also watched 60 Minutes
highlight the unintended consequences of our actions, as was the case with Lesley Stahl’s award winning piece on the impact that United Nation sanctions had on the children of Iraq. This story was of special interest to me . . . the UN missions I flew in my United States Air Force U-2, marked especially for Iraq over-flights with a big, chalked "UN" on the tail, kept those sanctions in place. And if there is one common denominator I have seen throughout the history of 60 Minutes
, it is that they seek, above all else, to know and show the truth.
This Sunday night’s feature story will not disappoint those of us who want to know the truth about a topic that is more poignant to some of us than to others - the federally mandated discriminatory law affectionately known as "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell." CBS has covered this issue before, but this Sunday’s segment will shine new light on a more than decade-old topic.
Will this Sunday evening’s news exposé inspire Congress to hold hearings on the failed policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act sitting on their desks? Will the American people be outraged enough to call their Congressional Representatives and Senators and demand to know why Congress hasn’t acted sooner to relieve the burden on our military and strengthen our security? The verdict is still out . . . and we - those of us fortunate enough to be citizens of this country - can be "the deciders."
I ask you to urge your friends and family to watch 60 Minutes
this Sunday night. If you are inspired, angered, outraged, or motivated in any way, please engage with us at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
to defend the defenders and change the course of our nation’s history.
Thank you for watching!
- Cholene Espinoza
Labels: in the news, SLDN on 60 Minutes
12-13-07 Comment (4)
Make a purchase that makes a difference to SLDN! Do your holiday shopping at Love and Pride
and when you make a purchase from the Fly Naked with Reichen Collection, 10% of the sales will be donated to our organization to help lift the ban. Fly Naked with Reichen is a collection of dog tags, rings, bracelets, cuff links, money clips and key rings inspired by Reichen’s love of aviation; many of the designs incorporate propellers and wings and all are crafted in titanium, the same material used to build aircraft. So look good and do good with Love and Pride
. And check out the Fly Naked photo and video gallery of Reichen wearing selections from the Collection!
1. Grey Titanium Propeller Pendant
2. Titanium Money Clip
3. Photo of Reichen wearing Propeller Pendant
12-12-07 Comment (0)
A new survey
has been created to achieve a more accurate picture of the state of the transgender American veteran population. Many of the issues facing transgender veterans are no different than those facing the rest of the transgender community. However negotiating healthcare thru the Veterans Administration and dealing with the Department of Defense poses its own unique set of challenges. This survey is also for those transgender people who are still serving in the military and those veterans who identify and are diagnosed as intersex.
The detailed survey
of 117 short questions only takes between ten and twenty minutes of your time and it is the first of its kind to be undertaken. Many of the questions have several choices to them, but just a few will take multiple answers. A large percentage of the questions are a simple “Yes/No.” Some require a written response. While transgender veterans who do not, or have not ever used the VA for their medical needs, can skip that entire section.
The survey can be accessed here
would appreciate as many transgender/intersex veterans and active duty service members to take this survey as possible. If anyone knows of a transgender veteran who does not have access to a computer, then please help them log on at a local library or community center so TAVA can obtain their responses as well. The answers to this survey will not only help veterans’ organizations in providing assistance to their transgender members, but it will benefit other organizations from the answers not having to do with the military. Since there are no questions about personal contact information, this survey is completely confidential. For additional inquiries about this survey, please contact the Transgender American Veterans Association
, or go to our web site at www.tavausa.org
- Monica Helms
Labels: transgender issues, veterans
12-12-07 Comment (0)
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