GetEQUAL holds Veterans Day rally to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell”

About 20 people gathered at the Western North Carolina Veterans Memorial in downtown Asheville this afternoon, Nov. 11, to honor LGBT vets who have served in silence or been discharged under the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy. The event was organized by Angel Chandler of GetEQUAL and featured speeches by her as well as 17-year army veteran Alyce Knaflich and Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell.

“If people are willing to die for their country, why should we care who they sleep with,” said Chandler, before going on to urge elected leaders to repeal the military policy that bars openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from service. “We need to make homophobia unacceptable.”

Knaflich explained that throughout her entire career, from 1975-1992, “we were always worried about getting caught. … The military would plant undercover agents to try to get you to talk. … We were hunted like moles by wild dogs. …

“When transport comes from Ramstein Air Base in Germany carrying our latest war dead, the U.S. flag is draped over each casket,” she continued. “And can you tell me which coffin contains a black service member, a woman service member, a Jewish service member, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer? I don’t think so.”

Bothwell added that he hopes congress will follow the lead of polls that show the majority of the public favors changing the law and repeal it before the Republicans take over the House in January.

“Because of the marriage laws in this country, the benefits that are due to the families of [LGBT] veterans don’t pass on to their loved ones in the same way that they do to straight couples. So it’s like insult to injury,” he explained. “I would say that the laws are changing, attitudes are changing – certainly the electorate is far ahead of the elected officials in this country in polls – they want to get rid of don’t ask don’t tell.”

The event ended with a moment of silence that Chandler said was “for all the service members serving overseas, whether they be straight, gay, bisexual, whatever.”

GetEQUAL holds Veterans Day rally to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

GetEQUAL holds Veterans Day rally to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

GetEQUAL holds Veterans Day rally to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell"
Photos by Jake Frankel

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Jake Frankel is an award-winning writer and reporter who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

22 thoughts on “GetEQUAL holds Veterans Day rally to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell”

  1. uptown girl

    “If people are willing to die for their country, why should we care who they sleep with?”.
    Very good point!

  2. xander77

    I fougt over in iraq, and i did so without worrying about who the man next to me was sleeping with. I believe that homosexuals should be allowed to join the armed forces without fear or being singled out. However, i am very upset that they chose today of all days to protest for equal rights. Today is one of the few days the American people thank the men and women of the armed forces for their service. That includes those how have fought and gave their lives for this nation and just so happened to be gay or lesbian. To hold a rally for the cause of equal rights today was in a word… selfish. The gay and lesbians of this country spend their time saying they want to be just like everyone else but at every chance want to march, protest, hold publicly teleivised marriages, and in other words shout “Here we are!!!” I for one think that from now on that the poeople responable for this event should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of thanking the women and men of this nation who have fought, served, and died for the freedom we all enjoy, they where to busy enjoying that freedom by protesting.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I am not anti-gay. But, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is the best policy. It mirrors civilian life. I have friends who are gay, but they do not wear it on their sleeve, any more than heterosexuals do.

    Homophobic comments are almost always prefaced with “I’m am not anti-gay.” This is no different as it then traipses straight into the usual “get back in that closet where you belong” rant. And next time you think that heterosexuals don’t “wear it on their sleeve,” just think about all the guys who talk about hot babes and openly ogle women, or about all those straight couples who hold hands, kiss in public, etc. and then make that idiotic claim.

  4. Piffy!

    [b]And “protesting” about this issue on Veteran’s Day in front of a veteran’s memorial is indeed “selfish”, and inappropriate. God bless our all our veterans.[/b]

    How is it ‘selfish’ when the ones protesting are veterans?

  5. Piffy!

    It’s a good thing such sensible, community-dialogue-engendering posts like the one from “Joe Plumber” above are here to keep the dialogue entirely moronic.

  6. ahuntsman

    I attended this event yesterday. It was not a protest of any kind. It was an opportunity for people to speak about their experiences and hope for change in the armed forces future policy. All veterans, no matter how labeled, were thanked for their courage and sacrifices.

  7. xander77

    I wanted to clear the air after reading what Ken, and Joe have now posted in response to what i have written. Joe, first thank you for your service, but also i do believe that gays and lesbians should be able to openly serve this great country of ours. I have no issuse with men or women having whoever in their beds or hearts, it is none of my business. It is know different than a heterosexual relationship… it doesn’t concern me. I just believe they could have planned that rally for the day after Veterans Day or the day before.
    As for Ken’s comment on the matter. this is Asheville and i have more than once seen same sex couples kissing, holding hands, and ogling some “hot babe”, so please don’t make it sound like heterosexuals have a monopoly on that kind of behavior. Oh, and before you call me homophobic or try playing the hate card on me, i’d like to make it known that i am the pround son of a lesbian mother.
    I am a firm believer in equal rights for anyone who is willing to put their life on the line for this wonderful nation we call home. Homosexuals have been around for quite sometime and i hope that someday soon they will have the same rights to serve, marry, and do anything that i as a heterosexual can.
    For those who are so hung up on homosexuals being immoral, i’ll end with this. Alexander the Great controlled most of the known world, and he did so long before Christ walked this planet.He loved his soldiers and some in more ways than one. Plato was and still is considered to be a great mind and writer, to the point his works are read today in high schools, colleges and in homes across the country… he was gay as the day is long. Achilles, fictional hero of the Trojan War and considered the greatest warrior to ever live… guess what… gay. And the list goes on and on. I hate to be the one to have to say this America but get over it!!! The gays and lesbians of the world have been here for a never long time and i got news for you… they ain’t going anywhere.
    So in short i neither agree completely with Joe on the subject of gays and lesbians in the military nor, like the fact that Ken wants to make this an issue of heterosexual verses homosexual. I just think that next year, if things haven’t changed and homosexuals are still having to live with don’t ask don’t tell, they be more understanding and protest on a day that doesn’t take away from the people, gay and straight, that provided them with the freedom to protest in the first place.

  8. Ken Hanke

    As for Ken’s comment on the matter. this is Asheville and i have more than once seen same sex couples kissing, holding hands, and ogling some “hot babe”, so please don’t make it sound like heterosexuals have a monopoly on that kind of behavior

    That was neither what I said, nor was it my intention. What I said was in response to “Joe Plumber” and his stance that heterosexuals don’t do that. On the contrary, they do. It’s just accepted as the “norm.”

  9. xander77

    That was neither what I said, nor was it my intention. What I said was in response to “Joe Plumber” and his stance that heterosexuals don’t do that. On the contrary, they do. It’s just accepted as the “norm.”

    Ok Ken, sorry for the understanding.

  10. xander77

    That was neither what I said, nor was it my intention. What I said was in response to “Joe Plumber” and his stance that heterosexuals don’t do that. On the contrary, they do. It’s just accepted as the “norm.”

    Ok Ken, sorry for the understanding.
    sorry for the misunderstanding Ken was what i meant

  11. Ken Hanke

    Now, I assume, you are not a military veteran or you would’ve said you were. You have an opinionj. But it is not a well informed opinion because you don’t have the real life experince of serving in the armed forces

    So you feel you are qualified to have an opinion — excuse me, a well-informed” opionion — for the entire military because you say you’ve been in the service?

    I have several gay friends, both male and female. I have many heterosexual friends. None of them wear their homosexuality on their sleeve. It is private.

    Gee, you sound just like Chad Nesbitt. So, so all your het friends keep their sexuality to themselves? Do you? I doubt it. Do you or your straight friends never look at a woman and label her “hot” or some other term? Well, that’s wearing your sexuality on your sleeve. You’re subscribing to a double standard, even though you may think you’re not.

  12. Piffy!

    [b]None of them wear their homosexuality on their sleeve. It is private.[/b]

    Well, if they don’t ‘wear it on their sleeve’, then how do you know? You didn’t ask and ‘they’ didn’t tell, right? You know, all these gay people you are allegedly friends with that somehow makes your bigotry more acceptable…

  13. Piffy!

    [b]Only when one is on weekend pass or on leave does one have the privacy to “sleep with whoever they want”. Not while on duty[/b]

    Joe, you seem to be under the impression a repeal of ‘DADT’ would somehow encourage gay people to have sex on the battlefield.

    This is, of course, only shows an amazing lack of understanding of not only the modern military, but the specifics of the issue at hand.

    Repealing DADT wont give ‘special rights’ to homosexuals, nor will it engender gay orgies on the field of combat, as you seem to imply.

    What it WILL do is make it possible for homosexuals to enjoy their chosen career serving in our Nation’s military without having to fear for their job security lest someone discover their sexual orientation.

    You would do yourself and the men and women in uniform a favor to actually learn this issue instead of merely repeating homophobic un-truths (we call them lies) from the GOP playbook.

  14. Piffy!

    [b]I am curious why you and Ken are so emotionally involved here that you react with name calling if someone disagrees with your point of view. “Liar” and “homophobe” are completely unnecessary.[/b]

    Are they? You have repeated lies about DADT and have displayed extreme intolerant and fearful views about homosexuals.

    Also, Ken and I are gay lovers.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I am curious why you and Ken are so emotionally involved here that you react with name calling if someone disagrees with your point of view. “Liar” and “homophobe” are completely unnecessary.

    I’m curious why you, Mr. Plumber (from whom I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this song before when you sported a different name), constantly don’t address the issue of whether or not you and your straight friends don’t engage in behavior that is effectively “wearing your sexuality on your sleeve,” but want gays to keep their sexuality to themselves. But apparently, you’re not going to do that, so I don’t think the word “homophobe” is so much an insult as it is merely a reasonable deduction. And how are we “so defensive?” You’re the one who’s scared of the idea of gays who are openly gay, not us.

    And no amount of “you don’t understand because you’ve never been in the military” (and we know you have how exactly?) is going to change that. You know, I had a friend who was an ex-Marine that when pressed on this issue blurted out that he’d just feel uncomfortable being ogled by another guy in the showers. (The truth is my friend was such a toad he couldn’t have gotten picked up on Christopher Street at midnight on New Year’s Eve.) The fact is that isn’t going to change just because you don’t know whether your comrade is gay.

    By the way, there are a lot of things President Clinton agrees with that I don’t. And almost anything that GW Bush agrees with I definitely find specious.

  16. Piffy!

    Thanks for continuing the debate, ken.

    Apparently i’m not allowed to participate in this conversation.

  17. Gordon Smith

    The folks arguing for DADT would do well to wonder whether their arguments were once used against allowing racial integration in the U.S. military.

    Segregation, Separate But Equal, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – these are all oppressive policies. No one will be able to convince me that humanity is better off oppressing homosexuals.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Apparently i’m not allowed to participate in this conversation

    You probably oughtn’t have outed our Grand Passion.

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