May 12th, 2010
04:05 AM ET

Vets lobby Congress for repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

Over a hundred U.S. military veterans gathered Tuesday on Capitol Hill to press Congress for quick repeal of the law banning gays from serving in the military.

Gay, lesbian and straight veterans and supporters converged on steps of the U.S. Capitol for a group photograph with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, who is the main sponsor of a bill that would officially repeal the law, known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Event participants visited their respective congressional representatives to urge them to repeal the law without waiting for the completion of a Pentagon study that is looking at how the change would be implemented.

Eric Alva, a retired Marine with the group Human Rights Campaign, one of the event's organizers, came from San Antonio, Texas, to visit his congressman, Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas.

"He's a friend to his constituents so we were there just to thank him," said Alva, who was the first American seriously injured in the Iraq war when he lost his right leg after stepping on a land mine. He announced he was gay after his medical discharge from the military.

Event participant Andre Sauvageot, 77, served in the Army during World War II. He described himself as straight and "happily married to a Vietnamese woman for 40 years," but said he came from nearby Virginia to show solidarity with gay and lesbian veterans.

"It's a waste of human resources to discharge skilled military personnel simply because of sexual orientation," he said.

Sauvageot said he talked to a staffers in the office of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, and hopes to visit Virginia's two senators, Mark Warner and Jim  Webb, both Democrats, on Thursday.

"I'm very encouraged," said Sauvageot. "I think people are beginning to understand the common sense and justice in keeping with American values in getting rid of this legislation."

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Human rights • Military • U.S. • Veterans
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. tifoso

    gumpirate – Coast guard Gunner's Mate? We could have figured that out. GM's are second only to Boatswains Mates at the bottom of the intelligence list. If you knew diddly about the modern Navy, you would know that the high school dropouts like you that once filled the ranks are gone. Many ratings have real duties that require real knowledge. You may be able to swab out the bore of 5 inch – even an ape can be trained to do that – but you would be hopelessly lost as a CT or ET, someone who must know electronics and, often, a foreign language or two. GM's do not run nuclear reactors. They lack the smarts. So we now realize the basis of your hatred of GLBT's – you are jealous that they are smarter than you are and that still eats at you. They got all the good jobs while you did the grunt work. Truth hurts, doesn't it?

    May 13, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. gunpirate

    im sure that the thousands of past,present and future BM'S AND GM'S including the families of those that were killed in action will gladly embrace your absurd comments,which show that you have no knowlegdge of the military or of manhood.because most likely you are one of those who were caught and discharged.i am not a high school dropout,however i have great respect for high school dropouts that go into the military,learn a rating and better themselves.it was not,is not now or will never be a bunch of high tech-prissy sissys that sit on their rear at a computer keyboard that make the military work.it is the ordinary seamen,the marine recon grunt,the ranger in the army,the crew chief of warbirds.and as far as apes go..i want you to know that your mother has flunked out of 'A' SCHOOL. above anything else liberal liptard....you should know that no one should even join or be in the military unless they are prepared to kill americas enemies,no one likes to kill or destroy,however if you are not prepared to do that or help someone else do it then stay out.and i would in a heartbeat take a good hearted farm boy or urban kid with a GED over a disgusting intellectual snobish coward that you are.id love to see you in a room full of boatswains and gunners mate and express your opinion and you would get a chance to see how the 'healthcare system works" up close

    May 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. tifoso

    Gumjob – Your comment just proves my point.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. USAF Mom

    Sailor Girl - "Thank You" for your service and sacrifice! I can't imagine the pressure and stress you must deal with on a daily basis. Proudly serving your country and working at a job you love every day, but unable to be your best self and live openly is unfathomable. To all the gay/lesbian servicemembers – one day (soon) history will be re-written and this wrong will be righted.

    To all concerned about barracks & showers – grow up. You're sleeping/showering with gay soldiers/airman/sailors right now and don't know it! What do you think is gonna happen when DADT is repealed??? NOTHING – except the fact that your fellow servicemen/women can't be kicked out because of who they are and can finally have a personal life they deserve. This will NOT affect you in any way whatsoever. Unless they are a trusted/loyal friend and they choose to confide in you, you'll still never know. G/L's want to continue serving their country without persecution – they don't want YOU.

    Hey phobes - if you're afraid of getting hit on, why not get a big "H" (for Hater) tat so everyone will know what YOU are!

    To Sailor Girl and all the other G/L servicemembers on active duty - be proud, be strong. We love you and we need you.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JC

    As someone who was part of the 400 veterans’ who were there in Washington meetings with my elected representatives on May 12th I want to add my voice to the discussion on this issue. (CNN had the number wrong.) As a fiscal conservative I want the government to stop wasting money by discharging highly trained and patriotic individuals, as a social progressive I want the administration to address this basic human rights issue of equality, as a retired Army NCO I want to change this policy that requires people to lie to the people they need to trust and build a fighting team with. We need to stop this illogical policy that ultimately is damaging the teamwork we need in our military during this time when we are fighting two wars. Most military members are convinced this change is coming and 75 % of the civilian community believes it's time for a change. We should let our fellow citizens who are willing to serve do so with honor, honestly and openly. Call your Senator and Representative and tell them now is the time for change, now is the time to stop this policy that wastes the talents of our brave GLB sisters, brother, and children. Yes, I am gay and I am proud that I served my country for over 20 years. What we should be talking about is how we should support our military, not how we can continue to oppress some minority doing what 99 % of follow our citizen do not want to.

    May 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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