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Don't Ask, Don't Tell news

* The latest issue of The Advocate has a special section with the first on-the-record interviews with active duty lesbian and gay service members inside Iraq.  This was coordinated with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Also interviewed are SLDN client and spokesman Jason Knight and veteran Eric Alva (the first soldier injured in Iraq). From The Frontlines:

“My command seems to act as if I never came out to them,” SLDN client [Karissa] Urmanita tells the magazine. “Work is still the same, and off time didn’t change.” She continues by pointing out that, “I’m open about talking to my girlfriend over the phone. I know other lesbians, and I’ve been seen hanging out with them. I’m just in a more comfortable environment because [my colleagues] know it’s hard for me to be honest and open to the whole Army.”

Urmanita’s experience, as The Advocate shows, is becoming more and more common within the armed forces. Lesbian, gay and bisexual service members – like Knight – are serving openly with the support of their colleagues and commands, and finding that life in the closet isn’t always the only choice.

* If you go to Lift the Ban.org, you can see a clip from a documentary by Robert Greenwald that debuted at the Take Back America conference today. It chronicles the dismissal of gay Arabic linguists under DADT.

More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed since implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993.  According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly 800 of those dismissed had skills deemed “mission-critical” by the Department of Defense, including more than 300 language specialists.  The cost to U.S. taxpayers for maintaining the ban is estimated at $363.8 million.

Other organizations partnering in the film launch with SLDN and Brave New Foundation  include the California Council of Churches, Campaign For America?s Future, Campus Progress, Democrats.com, Human Rights Campaign, Log Cabin Republicans, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, People for the American Way, SEIU, Unitarian Universalists Association of Congregations

* John at Americablog has an interview with former Marine IED specialist Antonio Agnone who left the US military because of the ban on gays and lesbians openly serving.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding