HRC Blog

Veterans, Community Leaders Join Fight Against DADT in Tallahassee

The following post comes from HRC Veteran Organizer Justin Ford: Before the end of the Florida state legislative session, the Voices of Honor tour held a screening of “Ask Not” and a veterans panel in Tallahassee. The event was held at the Tallahassee City Hall Commission Chamber, where locals gathered to show support for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The veteran panel was comprised of both LGBT and straight veterans, who spoke from their experiences in the military and the impact of DADT. The veterans’ panel was packed with local community leaders. Larry Simmons, Chair of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee, shared his personal experiences in the Army and vowed to work with the Florida Democratic Party to repeal DADT. The President of the FSU Collegiate Veterans Association, Nick Breeze, spoke about his best friend and former brother in arms who was gay and served with him in Iraq. A local business owner, Corri Byrne, fielded many questions about his service in the U.S. Navy as a gay man. Jennifer Nichols, who is currently serving as the Senior Aviation Weather Observer at the Tallahassee Airport, talked about how DADT impacted her life during her years of service. Veteran Justin Ford, who helped organize the event, spoke about the Army’s loss of well qualified soldiers and its impact on the strength of our military. Local and state elected officials came to show their support for the repeal of DADT. The Chairman of the Leon County Commission, who served as a Lieutenant Commander U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer, spoke about the gay and lesbian military members that he commanded that were among the best soldiers that he had ever served with. Representatives Kriseman and Brandenburg, who sponsored the Military Readiness Memorial, discussed their efforts on the state level to repeal DADT. With overwhelming support from both the community and the elected officials in attendance, the event was nothing short of groundbreaking. The audience was full of questions and inspirational words of encouragement. The discussion extended beyond the veterans panel with an active and participatory audience, which left inspired to get involved in the fight to repeal DADT.

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