News release from Equality Florida:
Keith Meinhold is a Florida native and decorated combat veteran He has teamed up with Equality Florida, Progress Florida and the Service Members Legal Defense Network to help repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. Read his message and if you are moved by his story, please take a moment to sign this letter urging the Florida congressional delegation to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Executive Director, Equality Florida
My fellow Floridian,
I served as an aircrew instructor aboard the Navy's P-3C Orion aircraft and flew combat missions throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf.
Despite being rated in the top ten percent of all Navy instructors I was kicked out of the Navy after coming out on a national news broadcast as part of an effort to stop a witch hunt against other gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
I'm writing to you today because together we have a unique opportunity to right a wrong.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law bans gays, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military. Because of this law, more than 13,000 dedicated military personnel have had their careers taken away, their dignity dragged through the mud and their families torn apart. These discharges have included Arabic linguists, pilots, medics and others that held critical skill sets vital to our national security.
Every day we are getting closer to the 218 co-sponsors needed to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283 in the U.S. House of Representatives) and repeal this backward law. With 168 co-sponsors as of today, we are just 50 short of the mark. With your help we can meet our objective over the next 60 days, and have a real shot at getting a vote this year.
As a Floridian, I am proud to report that today there is real momentum for repeal right here in our state. Nine members of Florida's congressional delegation ranging from Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Miami) to Democrat Kathy Castor (Tampa) have co-sponsored this historic legislation. And thanks to the hard work of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network city governments, the latest being Miami, are passing resolutions in support. Now, we need your help.
Following my discharge a Federal court reinstated me into Navy where I served for another four years openly gay. It was the most rewarding four years of my career. My crew flew combat missions over the Persian Gulf and was recognized by the Navy as the most combat effective in the Pacific Fleet. I was also awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. I am the first openly gay man to retire from active duty with full military honors. With your support there will be many more.
Thank you in advance for your commitment to justice for every active duty military service member and veteran in the United States.
Yours in service,
Petty Officer 1st Class, U.S. Navy (Ret.)