April 29, 2010
Contact: Alan Bounville, 407.484.6671 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin McGehee, 559.287.9670 or email@example.com
Discharged and Active Gay Servicemembers to Protest in Front of White House on Sunday
They Demand Obama Show Leadership and Immediately Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as Promised
WASHINGTON – On May 2nd at 12:00 noon (EDT), GetEQUAL, Queer Rising and Talk About Equality will gather outside the White House to demand that President Obama immediately include “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal language in his Defense Authorization transmittals to Congress to ensure repeal of the ban this year. There will also be a solidarity rally in Phoenix across from Sen. McCain’s Phoenix office.
WHO: Speakers Include:
Lt. Dan Choi
Capt. Jim Pietrangelo II
Lt. Robin Chaurasiya
Cpl. Evelyn Thomas
Spc. Jarrod Chlapowski
Maj. Mike Almy
Capt. Tanya Domi
Cpl. Brett Edward Stout
Sgt. Brian Fricke
Sgt. Justin Elzie
** Bios for each below**
WHERE: Lafayette Park across from The White House
WHEN: Sunday, May 2, 2010
12:00 noon (EDT) to 3:00 pm (EDT)
In his January State of the Union address, President Obama promised to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy this year. Since that time, a series of statements from the Administration have suggested that the President is no longer committed to repeal this year. Leaders in Congress and organizations leading the fight for repeal have called on the President to clarify his commitment and show leadership—yet, the President remains AWOL.
With the possibility of losses in the House and Senate for Democrats this Fall, waiting for a review of DADT may very likely delay repeal for years. The LGBT community and allied communities will continue to put pressure on the President and members of Congress to follow through with their pledge to repeal DADT this year.
PHOENIX SOLIDARITY RALLY: There will be a coordinated rally across from Senator McCain’s Phoenix office at Desert Storm Park. The Phoenix Rally will feature the “McCain Five” (Petty Officer Lonnie Allen Howard-Stidham, Jimmy Gruender, Meg Sneed, Luisa Valdez and Lee Waters), the activists arrested on Monday after refusing to leave Sen. McCain’s Phoenix office after being denied a meeting with their Senator. The rally is sponsored by H.E.R.O. (Human & Equal Rights Organizers), for more information on the Phoenix rally contact Rev. Brad Wishon at 623.570.6166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biographies for Servicemembers:
Lieutenant Dan Choi served as an infantry officer with the United States Army in Iraq in 2006-2007. Choi graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and is fluent in Arabic. In June 2008, he transferred from active duty Army to the New York National Guard. After coming out on The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009, he was notified that the Army had begun discharge proceedings against him. Choi is a founding member of KnightsOut, an organization of West Point alumni that advocates for the rights of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, and he speaks frequently
in support of rights for LGBT members of the military.
Captain Jim Pietrangelo II is a a former infantryman and lawyer originally from Ohio, who served in the United States Army until he was discharged in 2004 under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Pietrangelo fought in Iraq in 1991 as an infantryman and returned as a JAG officer for the second Iraq War. As he was readying for a third combat tour, he was honorably discharged for declaring he is gay. Pietrangelo sued the government, charging that the policy is unconstitutional. He appealed to the Supreme Court, but in June
2009, the Supreme Court rejected the case and refused to intervene, at the request of the Obama Administration.
Corporal Evelyn Thomas was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Texas, joined the Army National Guard and then the United States Marine Corps. She served at Camp Pendleton for four years until another Marine found a letter in her locker about her relationship with a woman. She was then honorably discharged in 1991. In October 2009, Thomas founded a ministry for gays in the military who fear they may be discharged for speaking openly to base chaplains about their sexuality. The Sanctuary Project Veterans is a ministry of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA, and it provides a safe haven, support, legal advice, and services for soldiers harassed due to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
Captain Tanya Domi is a former United States Army Captain who served 15 years. She was a paratrooper, drill instructor, and company commander of 140 MPs. Over her 15 years of service, she survived being investigated as a lesbian twice enlisting as a Private before leaving the Army honorably as a Captain in 1990. She currently works and lives in New York City.
Lieutenant Robin Chaurasiya is an active duty United States Air Force officer currently facing disharge under DADT after entering into a civil union with her partner. Lt Chaurasiya is a communications officer who graduated with honors from Illinois Institute of Technology with degrees in Psychology and political science. She has received widespread support from her unit as she continues to serve openly and truthfully.
Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski – He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2000 and trained as a Korean linguist and cryptologic voice interceptor. After witnessing the discharges of quite a few fellow service members, Chlapowski chose not to re-enlist because of DADT. In November 2005, Chlapowski teamed up with Alex Nicholson to develop the aggressive Call to Duty Tour, a seven-week public education initiative geared toward putting a human face on the DADT issue. He would later co-found Servicemembers United.
Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski enlisted in the United States Army in 2000 and trained as a Korean linguist and cryptologic voice interceptor. After witnessing the discharges of quite a few fellow service members, Chlapowski chose not to re-enlist because of DADT. In November 2005, Chlapowski teamed up with Alex Nicholson to develop the aggressive Call to Duty Tour, a seven-week public education initiative geared toward putting a human face on the DADT issue. He would later co-found Servicemembers United.
Major Mike Almy was an Air Force Major who was named one of the top officers in his career field in the United States Air Force, and was in charge of leading 200 airmen in Iraq. He was discharged in 2006 when his emails were illegally read and he was relieved of his duties after he refused to make a statement about his sexuality without the presence of his lawyers. After a lengthy 16 month legal battle he was discharged from the military and would be escorted off base by military police. He was just one of many service members discharged in a combat zone under DADT.
Corporal Brett Edward Stout was a Russian cryptologic-linguist and weapons marksmanship instructor and was in school for Marine Recon before being pulled out due to the suspicion he was gay. After going through an investigation he decided not to re-enlist due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” and was honorably discharged in 2002. He currently works and lives in New York City.
Sergeant Brian Fricke enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000 and was trained to work on Marine Helicopters. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and decided not to re-enlist due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy.” He was honorably discharged in 2005. He currently works and lives in Washington DC.
Sergeant Justin Elzie was in Supply and did a tour as an Embassy Guard. He had two meritorious promotions and was named “Marine of the Year” for his battalion in Japan. He came out on ABC Evening News in 1993 in order to challenge the ban on gays in the military. He went on to serve four years openly gay. During the time he served openly gay he was recommended for promotion, received unit awards and served on a ship and in the field as a platoon sergeant. He was honorably discharged in 1997. He currently works and lives in New York City.
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About Get Equal
GetEQUAL is a new online lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer activist community. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBTQ community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL visit http://www.getequal.org.
About Queer Rising:
Queer Rising is a grassroots organization that engages in direct action to demand queer rights. For more information on Queer Rising visit http://www.queerrising.org.
About Talk About Equality
TalkAboutEquality.org is a group dedicated to the thought that through discussion, action and education, LGBTQ Americans will one day experience full Equality under Federal Law. For more information visit http://www.talkaboutequality.org.
Human & Equal Rights Organizers (H.E.R.O.) is dedicated to creating all-inclusive coalitions to secure equal rights through service, action, visibility and education in local communities and envisions a world free of discrimination with equal rights and dignity for all. For more information visit http://be-a-hero.us