You can view Antonio's response to the Republican presidential candidates here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08Uz-hFS2PA
A little over a year ago, Agnone completed a tour of duty in Iraq where he led a platoon of men to seek out and destroy weaponry including IEDs - the insurgency weapon responsible for most of the casualties of American troops. Despite his training and desire to continue serving his country, Agnone chose to end his military service in April because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Agnone will join other veterans on June 12 in Des Moines, Iowa, to kick off the Human Rights Campaign's national "A Legacy of Service" tour to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The tour will also feature former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first American service member wounded in Iraq, and many other American heroes standing united and speaking out for the repeal of this discriminatory policy that continues to harm our nation's security.
A transcript of Antonio Agnone's video statement is below:
Hello, my name is Antonio Agnone. I'm a former officer in the United States Marine Corps.
Last night, the Republican candidates for president gathered together for a debate televised live to the world over CNN. They were asked on simple question - raise your hand if you support repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Not a single hand went in the air.
A little over a year ago, I finished my tour of duty in Iraq where I led a platoon of men to seek out and destroy IEDs - the weapon responsible for most of the casualties of American troops. In April, I chose to end my military service because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
To Republican candidates "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" clearly means an opportunity to score a few political points with an anti-gay base. To me, it meant the end of a career and a family legacy of service. To our country, it meant one less person on the battlefield doing his part to return America's sons and daughters home safely.
Over 60,000 gay and lesbian Americans are currently serving on active duty around the world. It makes me think about the Arabic-speaking gay soldier on the streets of Baghdad. What must he think when he hears a candidate running to be commander in chief calls his life a "disruptive issue."
On Tuesday, June 12, in Iowa, I'll join with other veterans to kick off the Human Rights Campaign's national tour to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The tour starts in the battleground state of Iowa - at the epicenter of presidential politics. Because last night those candidates did more than just not raise their hand. They dishonored my service and the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters. And we'll never forget.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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