We co-sponsored yesterday's rally at the Capital in DC along with several other organizations and websites to protest the failed cloture vote to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. The message sent to Congress was that the mission is incomplete and Congress shouldn't go home until they manage to pass repeal legislation.
Unfortunately, I had a ton of meetings after the rally and I'm just able to upload all the video now. My computer processes video slowly though, so I'll keep updating this post with all the video until I have all the rally uploaded. (The first video with only three speakers took an hour to process alone and I can't edit other videos while it does it!)
There's a full list of speakers after the jump at the end of the post.
Commander Zoe Dunning, USN (Ret.): is the Co-Chair of the SLDN board of directors. In January 1993, while a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Dunning publicly came out as a lesbian at a political rally outside the gates of California's Moffett Field. Dunning won her subsequent two-and-a-half year legal battle to remain in the Navy Reserves. The Navy promoted her twice and awarded her the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal since her coming out. She retired in June 2007 and holds the distinction of serving her country as an openly gay member of the U.S. military for over 13 years. She is a United States Naval Academy graduate, and received her MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
Former Major Mike Almy, USAF; a decorated service member who testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee about his discharge in 2006. If "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) ended today, he'd re-enlist tomorrow. The military searched his personal emails while deployed in Iraq during a routine computer maintenance check. Almy's command asked him his sexual orientation based on content from the emails. Per the investigation, Almy made no statement of his homosexuality - even after being asked by his superiors. He is one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia. Deployed to the Middle East four times. In last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq; the unit came under daily mortar attacks.
Former Specialist 4th Class Aubrey Sarvis, USA; served during the 1960s when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in the military. He now serves as executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Sarvis is the former chief counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee and later served as executive vice president of Verizon Communications.
Major General Dennis Laich, USA (Ret.); was commissioned through Army ROTC at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1971. He is a graduate of the US Army War College, the Command and General Staff College, and the Program for National and International Security Studies at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. His civilian education includes master's degrees from West Virginia University and Saint Francis University. His military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Joint Meritorious Service Medal.
Sergeant Tony Kourtakis, USMC (Reserves); graduated from Albion College with a B.A. in Economics and Management. After graduation, he enlisted for four years in the United States Marine Corps Infantry. As a rifleman, SAW Gunner and Team Leader in the infantry, Mr. Kourtakis had a street level view of many of today's policy topics, including Katrina and Iraq. He deployed as a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, serving in al-Anbar Iraq, Jordan, and Pakistan. Additionally, he participated in search and rescue missions in support of Task Force Katrina and support operations for the civilian evacuation of Lebanon in 2006. In 2009, he earned a Master of Public Policy from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Elizabeth Shirey, civilian planning to pursue military career; graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College in 2010. She currently serves as SLDN's Grassroots/Policy Advocate and formerly led Wellesley's LGBT political advocacy group. She served as legal intern for the USAF Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps on Bolling AFB in 2009, and interned on Capitol Hill for Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) in 2008. If DADT is repealed, she plans to enroll in ROTC during law school and pursue a career path as a military lawyer with USAF JAG.
Former Lance Cpl. Danny Hernandez, USMC; enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008 and achieved the rank of Lance Corporal before being discharged earlier this year. Before beginning his undergraduate studies he was awarded a four year ROTC scholarship to Oklahoma University, but declined it to attend Texas A&M. Danny spent four years in ROTC there, obtaining the rank of Commanding Officer his senior year, and was months away from attending Officer Candidate School as a college graduate. He is fully committed to returning to military service after the repeal of DADT.
Sergeant Jared Towner, WV ARNG (Guard); is enlisted in the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Former Sergeant Brian Fricke, USMC; is an Iraq War Veteran, a former Marine who served from 2000-05 choosing not to re-enlist because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Since his keynote speech at the SLDN National Dinner in 2005, Brian has been a strong supporter of SLDN. He testified at the New York City Council hearings in support of DADT repeal. Brian has volunteered for lobby days, serves on the SLDN National Development Committee and has significantly improved fundraising efforts in New York City and San Antonio with recent focuses in Florida. Brian continues to maintain extensive contacts with veterans and active-duty service members from around the country.
Former Major Jeffery Cleghorn, USA; is a 1984 distinguished military graduate of North Georgia College in Dahlonega, where he received a B.A. in Political Science. After graduation, he received a commission in the United States Army as an Officer in the Army's Military Intelligence Corps. Jeff's military career included overseas assignments in South Korea and Germany, and stateside assignments in Arizona and South Carolina. Jeff spent his final years in the Army working in Washington, D.C., for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, on the Joint Staff (Directorate for Intelligence). His military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Staff Commendation Medal and the Parachutist Badge.
Former Sergeant Pepe Johnson, USA; a native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, and a 1999 graduate of Fairmont State College where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Sergeant Johnson served as a field artilleryman at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, from 2000 until 2003 when he was discharged because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." While serving at Fort Sill, he was selected as Fort Sill's Soldier of the Year in 2001.