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."