Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Do Ask Do Tell

Posted from Progress Florida


Keith Meinhold is a Florida native and decorated combat veteran. He asked us to share the message below with the Progress Florida community. If you are moved by his story, please join us as we team up with Equality Florida and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and urge the Florida congressional delegation to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Mark Ferrulo
Executive Director, Progress 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 outing myself 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 and stop injustice and discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members.   
 
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law bans gays, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military. This law has been directly responsible for 13,000 dedicated military personnel having 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.
 
Please sign our letter to the Florida congressional delegation urging them to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
 
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.

There are many compelling reasons for repeal. A 2006 Blue Ribbon Commission found that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" caused the Pentagon to waste more than $360 million in taxpayer funds between 1994 and 2003. But perhaps more importantly, no other law mandates firing someone because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. The 65,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and one million veterans, should not be treated as second class citizens.
 
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.
 
Please sign our letter to the Florida congressional delegation urging them to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
 
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,
 
Keith Meinhold
Petty Officer 1st Class, U.S. Navy (Ret.)         
Miami, Florida



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