WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Servicemembers United (SU) have united to present an awareness and education tour on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as efforts to repeal the 16-year-old military gay ban ramp up in the nation’s capital. The journey will take representatives of both organizations and gay and lesbian veterans to some 26 different cities across the country. Charlotte is a tentative stop on the route.
The tour, “Voices of Honor: A Generation Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” will include public forums with gay and lesbian verterans of the Iraq and Afghyanistan wars. The groups will also screen “Ask Not,” a PBS documentary profiling SU founders Jarrod Chlapowski and Greensboro, N.C.-native Alex Nicholson.
Chlapowski and Nicholson worked with HRC on a similar tour a year ago, stopping in Charlotte in August. Nicholson, SU executive director, grew up in Greensboro and attended college there. After less than a year of military service, Nicholson was discharged in March 2002 — he says he never violated DADT and was outed by someone else.
This week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced new guidelines on DADT enforcement. Under the new regulations, DADT discharge orders can only be initiated by at least a one-star general or admiral. In addition, the new rules bar the use of third party, confidential or non-credible information about an individual’s sexual orientation as a basis for discharge proceedings.
Since DADT’s implementation in 1994, more than 13,000 servicemembers have been discharged. As much as $360 million dollars or more has been spent discharging and replacing those troops.
The Voices of Honor Tour will stop first in Lincoln, Neb. on March 29. From there, they’ll continue on to Indiana University in South Bend, Ind., on March 30 and Omaha, Neb., on March 31. The Tour’s tentative Charlotte stop is planned for April 13.