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SLDN to March on White House

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and its allies will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots by leading a march of 265 veterans, service members and supporters to the White House 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27, to urge President Obama to break his continued silence on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The 265 marchers represent the number of service members discharged this week since the President and the new Congress were sworn in.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2009

CONTACT: Paul DeMiglio, Sr. Communications Manager
PHONE: (202) 621-5408

SLDN March on White House to Honor 40th Anniversary of Stonewall, Call on President to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Washington, D.C. - The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and its allies will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots by leading a march of 265 veterans, service members and supporters to the White House 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27, to urge President Obama to break his continued silence on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The 265 marchers represent the number of service members discharged this week since the President and the new Congress were sworn in.

"‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' underscores that discrimination against gays and lesbians continues 40 years after the Stonewall riots, and reminds us that many challenges remain in the fight for full equality," said Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN Executive Director. "Like those who stood up for freedom at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, we will stand up for the freedom to serve. We need to tell President Obama that 265 is enough."

SLDN has been urging the President to speak up and send a bill (the Military Readiness Enhancement Act) to the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader that overturns DADT and replaces it with a policy of nondiscrimination.

The marchers will be led by five of the plaintiffs in Cook v. Gates, a Supreme Court case that was filed by the plaintiffs and SLDN in December 2004 on behalf of 12 lesbian and gay veterans discharged under DADT.

SLDN will be joined by the following partner organizations:

• American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
• Center Link
• Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
• International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
• Knights Out
• Metropolitan Community Churches
• National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
• Stonewall Democrats

"Every civil rights battle in the past 60 years has been fueled by strong presidential leadership," said former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant David Hall, one of the Cook v. Gates plaintiffs seeking reinstatement. "And that same leadership is also needed now to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly. It's time the President begins fulfilling his campaign promise by publicly endorsing HR 1283 and working with Congress to find the votes."

As long as the President remains silent on DADT repeal, men and women in the military will continue to be fired at a clip of two per day on average. The sense of urgency is palpable.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A journalists' guide is available here.

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