The Leslie Stahl 60 Minutes story
featuring openly gay Army Sergeant Darren Manzella - widely believed
to be the reason behind his discharge - is set for rebroadcast this
Sunday with an update.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN) announced that Manzella had been discharged under
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” - the military's ban on gays and lesbians
serving openly in the Armed Forces – effective June 10th.
In the story, originally broadcast in
December 2007, Manzella revealed he had been openly out to his
superiors without incident. 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 work.
Manzella said the Army found “no
evidence of homosexuality.”
Yet a new determination of
ineligibility was handed down after CBS aired their story. The SLDN
believes Manzella was fired not because he was gay, but because he
“Sergeant Manzella's story
illustrates the arbitrary and uneven enforcement of 'Don't Ask, Don't
Tell'. Manzella's dismissal has nothing to do with the fact that he
is gay, and everything to do with the fact that he spoke to Leslie
Stahl and CBS. Had 60 Minutes not aired this story, all
evidence indicates that Darren would still be serving in the Army as
an openly gay soldier and American troops in a war zone would
continue to be bravely served by a skilled medic,” said SLDN
Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis in a prepared statement.
Manzella 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.
“I was open about being gay to my
colleagues and commanders long before I sat down in front of a
camera, and no one cared because they recognized I am a good
soldier,” said Manzella. “Only when 60 Minutes interviewed me,
and the media started paying attention to the fact many openly gay
men and women already are serving in the armed forces, did the Army
take steps to discharge me.”
The rebroadcast will include an update
on Manzella's current situation.
On the net: The SLDN website is at