Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sgt. Darren Manzella in Metro Weekly, at SLDN benefit

I wasn't able to make the March 8 SLDN Annual Dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington DC yesterday, but the major speaker was Darren Manzella, and the DC Metro Weekly has a featured interview with him, March 6, 2008, at this link. The interview is called "In & Out" and is conducted by Will O'Bryan. "In & Out" was the name of a gay-themed comedy about a movie star who has played in a movie about gays in the military; the "real" film was released in 1997 by Paramount. (I did attend a reception at the National Building last year for a film event at the nearby Landmark Theater.)

Darren Manzella was featured on the CBS show "60 Minutes" on December 16, 2007. I have a posting about this show started on Dec. 15 and updated Dec. 16. Manzella "came out" but the Pentagon has refused to find official evidence of "homosexual conduct." That is partly because his health care skills are so indispensable. Nevertheless, under "don't ask don't tell" linguists and translators have been lost, and in the era of the Internet, the whole concept has unraveled.

The interview stresses the importance of military opportunity for many people. It can provide an opportunity to pay off student loans. The military GI bill is important, but many consider it inadequate for today's world, and there are bills to improve it, for example this entry on my issues blog.

The interview takes the position that the classical military arguments about servicemember "privacy" and about unit cohesion are a bit of a canard. Many younger servicemembers of this generation don't perceive it as an issue. Yet, back in 1993 the military used to argue that it must train the "least educated and least tolerant" younger members of society.

Note: Here is the link for the SLDN lobby day March 7, 2008 (and Capitol rally).

Update: March 16

Chris Johnson has a detailed report on SLDN lobby day in the March 14 issue of The Washington Blade, p 8, link here. SLDN also held a rally March 14. (I attended a comparable rally in 2007). There is a general impression that Marty Meehan's bill in the House to lift the ban has little chance this year (in the 110th Congress) because there is no comparable bill in the Senate yet. Go here for detailed links (link in Feb 2008) on the legislation in the House.

SLDN has a blog entry itself ("UNITE: An Evening in Pictures") on its Annual Dinner on March 8, 2008, here.

Kathi Wescott has an entry on the same blog about the forum held on March 12 at Georgetown University in Washington DC, "Military Preparedness: The Foreign Perspective," link here. See Feb. 22 entry on this blog about the Michael D. Palm Center (formerly CSSM) in Santa Barbara, CA, which has done a lot of research on assimilating gays in foreign militaries. Also, the Rand Corporation gave a lot of details (particularly about Israel) in its 1993 study commissioned by the Clinton Administration in the early days of the fight with Congress that led to "don't ask don't tell."

Update: March 23, 2008

Will O'Bryan of Metro Weeky (March 20) has a story (p. 10) on the Georgetown University forum, "Do Tell: American allies extol their gay-inclusive militaries," link here.

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