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Gay groups coming to Florida -- including Little Havana -- seeking repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

Gay rights groups Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers United are traveling the country, lobbying for repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

They’ll be stopping twice this month in Miami: A screening of a PBS documentary, Ask Not, will be April 7 at FIU’s Tamiami Campus; a Spanish-language morning discussion is planned for April 29 at Versailles Restaurant on Calle Ocho.

Here are details in a news release from HRC:

Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United Bring National Tour to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to Florida

HRC, SU, alongside lesbian, gay, and straight service members, to hold public forums in five cities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in partnership with Servicemembers United, will visit Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, and Pensacola, FL, throughout the month of April as part of “Voices of Honor: A Generation Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”  The national tour highlights the discriminatory law that hurts military readiness and national security while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk.  The events will include a documentary screening and a public forum with lesbian, gay and straight veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, alongside average Americans fighting for repeal of DADT.

HRC dispatched field staff to six states – Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia, where congressional support for repeal is critical.  The organization is building off the grassroots efforts of Servicemembers United to continue growing a network of supporters to repeal DADT.  To learn more visit: www.hrc.org/RepealDADT.

Military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, recognize that DADT is a failed law and support its repeal.  Former Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney also recently came out for repeal by stating, “When the chiefs come forward and say, ‘We think we can do it,’ then it strikes me as it’s time to reconsider the policy, and I think Adm. Mullen said that.”

Rep. Murphy, an Iraq War veteran and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, is the lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), the House bill to repeal the DADT law.  Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is the lead sponsor of similar legislation in the Senate.  More than 13,500 Americans have been denied the ability to serve – including more than 800 specialists with vital skills like Arabic linguists.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DETAILS:

WHAT:  Screening of “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WHEN:  April 5, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. local time

WHERE:  Plaza Theatre, 425 N. Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Army Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski, who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign;

-- Alex Nicholson, a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector discharged under DADT and current executive director of Servicemembers United;

TAMPA, FL DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DETAILS:

WHAT:  Screening of “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WHEN:  April 6, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. local time

WHERE:  Streetcar Charlie’s, 1811 N. 15th St., Tampa, FL

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joanne Scott, a former Army Intelligence analyst and straight ally who served with openly lesbian and gay service members;

-- U.S. Army Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski, who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign;

MIAMI, FL PUBLIC FORUM AND DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DETAILS:

WHAT:  Screening of “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and public forum

WHEN:  April 7, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. local time

WHERE:  Florida International University, Graham Center, Room 140, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33199

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- U.S. Army Specialist Rasool Mutawakkil, a Miami native, is a straight ally and served with openly lesbian and gay service members;

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Army Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski, who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign;

JACKSONVILLE, FL DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DETAILS:

WHAT:  Screening of “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WHEN:  April 13, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. local time

WHERE:  University of North Florida, Building 39, Room 1016, Jacksonville, FL, 32224

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- U.S. Army Specialist Eirinn O'Brien, a Jacksonville native and straight ally who served with openly lesbian and gay service members;

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Army Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski, who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign;

PENSACOLA, FL DOCUMENTARY SCREENING DETAILS:

WHAT:  Screening of “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WHEN:  April 14, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. local time

WHERE:  University of West Florida, 1100 University Pkwy., Student Commons Building 22, Pensacola, FL 32514

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Jay Boda, a native to Pensacola and former Human Intelligence Collector and Iraq veteran who retired in 2009 after serving a under DADT;

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Army Specialist Jarrod Chlapowski, who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign;

MIAMI, FL BILINGUAL PUBLIC FORUM DETAILS:

WHAT:  Public forum discussion on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WHEN:  April 29, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. local time

WHERE: Versailles, 3555 SW Eighth St. Miami, FL 33135

WHO:  Discussion to feature remarks from:

-- Walker Burtschell, a Miami native and veteran of the U.S. Army who was discharged under DADT;

-- U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Kevin Vick, a former Air Force Arabic linguist also fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese who chose not to reenlist due to DADT;

-- U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Felix Arrieta, a former Air Force and Air National Guard veteran who retired in 2005 after serving 20 years, most of which were under DADT;

VETERAN PROFILES: http://www.hrc.org/sites/repealdadt/voh.asp

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

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