Since 1993, more than 12,000 men and women have been unjustly discharged from the armed services because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the federal ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops. On average, two more service members are fired under the law every day. LGBT families are denied important benefits that traditionally come along with military service, and our country loses mission-critical specialists - such as doctors, linguists and combat engineers - because of the ban.
At several PFLAG meetings tonight, our chapters will highlight the true costs of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and rally their members to work for repeal of this unfair and un-American law.
As we reported earlier, our Dayton, OH chapter will host Major General Dennis Laich, USA (Ret.) who has been a strong proponent of ending the ban. MG Laich will address PFLAG supporters tonight at 7:30, at the Cross Creek Community Church in Dayton.
And in Maryland, PFLAG Howard County will host former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella (pictured), who served openly during a tour of duty in the Middle East, but was later discharged under the law after appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about his experience as a gay soldier in the war zone. (Darren's mother, Nancy, recently sat down and spoke with PFLAG about her hopes for repeal. You can read that interview here.)
Ahead of tonight's meeting in Howard County, Darren talked to the Baltimore Examiner about his experience in the U.S. Army, his work to topple "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the excuses some right-wing activists use to prop up the law.
To read the full interview, click here. And if you're near Dayton or Howard County, make plans to join PFLAG tonight as we salute America's veterans and recommit ourselves to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once and for all.