HRC Blog

Iraq Veteran, DADT Repeal Champion Dies

Darren Manzella, an openly gay Iraq war veteran, combat medic, counselor and newlywed, died in a car accident on Thursday in Rochester, NY, according to media reports.  
 
The U.S. Army sergeant was a champion of LGBT equality and instrumental in the work to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning gay and lesbian service members from serving openly.
 
Manzella came out in 2007 under DADT during a “60 Minutes” interview. A few months after his coming out, Manzella was honorably discharged.  

Because of brave vanguards for equality like Manzella, DADT was finally sent to the dustbin of history in 2011.
 
“We will always remember Sgt. Manzella as someone who had the courage both to fight for his country and to change it,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
 
Manzella and his longtime boyfriend Javier Lapeira-Soto married almost two months ago on July 5, 2013 in Rochester, NY.
 
Our thoughts and prayers are with Manzella’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.

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