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The Human Rights Campaign has announced that A Legacy of Service, its national tour protesting the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, will kick off in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 12. The organization hopes to raise awareness for the Iowa caucuses in January, the first step in the presidential nominating process.
The national tour is composed of a diverse group of veterans who have served under the military's antigay policy. The tour will feature former Marine staff sergeant Eric Alva, the first American soldier wounded in Iraq, along with several other military heroes to speak out against the policy.
"This national tour will show the faces of those who have served and sacrificed under this discriminatory policy," said HRC president Joe Solmonese in a press release. "The American people have already overwhelmingly decided that our military should be about service and not about holding on to policies that dishonor our troops."
The start of the tour comes days after the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates debated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on CNN. When asked to raise their hand if they support the repeal of the ban on LGBT soldiers serving openly in the military, every Democratic candidate raised their hand in favor. In stark contrast, not a single Republican candidate expressed their support.
"During the beginning of the 2008 presidential election, this tour will ensure that the debate around repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' is focused on the real issue at hand," continued Solmonese in the press release. "Those candidates running to be the next commander in chief will have to decide if they believe the sexual orientation of an Arabic linguist is more important than their ability to potentially decode the next piece of intelligence that could finally capture Osama Bin Laden." (The Advocate)