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DADT sit-ins around the country

Soulforce’s peaceful Right to Serve campaign sit-in campaign at military recruiting stations to protest “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is getting a lot of attention — and has resulted in a few arrests. Three demonstrators in Shreveport, Louisiana were taken in (365gay):

Eddie Lopez and Rachel Powell, both Shreveport residents, entered the recruitment center in that city and attempted to enlist. When they said they are gay they were told that under the law they were rejected for service.

The pair exited the building, but a short time later, when the recruitment officer left to get a cellphone from his car they and the other demonstrators entered the building and staged a sit-in.

Police attempted to talk the protestors into leaving peaceably, saying that the group had made its point. All but Lopez, Powell and a third person, Raydra Hall – a local LGBT activist – left.

When they refused a second request to depart police arrested them for trespassing. The three were taken to a nearby police station, charged and then released on their own recognizance.

In Chicago about 20 people were denied entry by police to a military recruitment center downtown and staged a sit-in on the street in front of the building. The group includes the incumbent national president of PFLAG, John Cepak, and two officials from the mayor’s office – the liaisons for the LGBT community and for veterans affairs.

One of the Chicago protesters, Rob Fojtik, contributed a piece to The Frontlines about the importance of being able to serve openly.

By refusing to let me go forward with the enlistment process, the military reminded me of our second-class status as gays in America. As disappointing and discouraging as it was to hear those words, especially in a time when soldiers are being sent back for multiple tours of duty because no one else wants to enlist, I still believe in our country and that one day soon “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be repealed.

Today, in Norman, Oklahoma, out lesbian Nichole Rawls will be attempt to enlist in the Army. Once she is rejected, supporters will stage the sit-in.

***

Here in the Tar Heel State, Matt Hill Comer is the organizer for Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign – Greensboro. That sit-in will be held at the Recruiting Center (near the corner of High Point Road and Merritt Drive) at 9:30 AM on Thursday, September 21st, 2006.

You can register to participate, or make a donation to help cover the cost of the effort.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding