May 27, 2004
HRC, SLDN, AVER Release ‘Documenting Courage: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Veterans Speak
'American soldiers are risking their lives for the freedoms of others while being denied their own,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign joined Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and American Veterans for Equal Rights today in releasing Documenting Courage: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Veterans Speak Out. The publication features the stories of GLBT veterans who served under discriminatory policies.
"American soldiers are risking their lives for the freedoms of others while being denied their own," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members deserve to be treated with the same respect as their peers, and HRC, SLDN and AVER will stand together in opposition to current policy until the day that becomes a reality."
Approximately 10,000 service members - linguists, infantry members, doctors, pilots, nurses, engineers, navigators, tankers, mechanics and members of virtually every other specialty - have been discharged in 10 years under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." These discharges have cost taxpayers between $250 million and $1.2 billion, according to research by SLDN.
"Americans are paying dearly to subsidize military discrimination," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN. "With overwhelming opposition to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, the nation's security at risk and a pressing need for Americans who are willing to serve, there are more than enough reasons for members of Congress to agree that the current laws are wrong."
The publication features the stories of 13 veterans - including Pfc. Franklin Kameny, who served in World War II Lt. Col. Hank Thomas, who served two tours in Vietnam and also worked for both the Nixon and Reagan administrations and Petty Officer 1st Class Cheryl Ann Costa, a transsexual who served in Vietnam.
"These stories are amazing. Every page tells the story of a veteran who displayed courage, but also immense dedication to their country while serving in silence. Clearly, patriotism and loyalty know no boundaries of sexual orientation or gender identity," said A.J. Rogue, president of American Veterans for Equal Rights. "It is our honor to stand side-by-side with such longtime notable organizations such as SLDN and HRC, united in our fight to end all discrimination of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals fighting for such things as the right to serve our country openly and honestly as the proud patriots we are or the right to marry the person we love."
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance. Media should contact: Steve Ralls, director of communications, (202) 328-3244, ext. 116, (202) 797-1635, [email protected].
AVER is a non-profit, chapter-based association of active, reserve and veteran servicemembers dedicated to full and equal rights and equitable treatment for all present and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces.