Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, who
spoke to Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, has been discharged from
the Army, reports the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a
pro-gay group working to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell – the
military's policy that bans gays from serving openly.
Manzella participated in a December
2007 story for the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes where he
revealed he had been openly out to his superiors without incident.
In the news piece, Manzella says he was
investigated for being gay and even supplied the Army with photos of
his boyfriend - A.J. - and a video of the pair kissing during a road
trip. But when the investigation ended he was told to go back to
Manzella said the Army found “no
evidence of homosexuality.”
The SLDN reports Manzella was
discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell effective June 10th.
The sergeant enlisted in the U.S. Army
in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for
providing medical care under fire during the Iraq war.
The SLDN reports that a growing number
of gay and lesbian service members are serving openly without
incident. The organization says it is aware of more than 500 troops
who are serving openly.
“The discharge of battle-tested,
talented service members like Sergeant Manzella weakens our military
in a time of war. National security requires that Congress lift the
ban on gays in the military and allow commanders to judge troops on
their qualifications, not their sexuality,” said Adam Ebbin,
Communications Director of SLDN.
“My sexual orientation certainly
didn't make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in
the streets of Baghdad. It shouldn't be a factor in allowing me to
continue to serve,” said Manzella.
On the net: SLDN website www.sldn.org