Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). We provide free, confidential legal services to all those impacted by DADT and related discrimination. Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 9,000 requests for assistance. In Congress, we are leading the fight to repeal DADT and replace it with a law that ensures equal treatment for every service member, regardless of sexual orientation. In the courts, we work to challenge the constitutionality of DADT.
The purpose of the event at the Gay Community Center of Richmond will be multidimensional: inform the Central VA community about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” educate about SLDN’s legal services, provide a legislative update, discuss our advocacy objectives moving forward, and provide a forum for individuals to voice their thoughts and opinions on the law. A tentative line-up/panel of speakers includes:
• Emily Hecht, SLDN Legal Director (topic: legal services)
• Darren Manzella, SLDN Policy Advocate & Iraq war veteran kicked out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (topic: personal experience)
• Ben Mishkin, SLDN Grassroots Organizer & Policy Advocate (topic: legislative update and grassroots activities)
• Tracey Thorne-Beglund – Richmond’s own former Navy pilot shares his story…