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The sixth annual Veterans Day Memorial Service in memory of fallen GLBT service members is scheduled for 2 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington.
Daniel Hays, vice president of the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), says the upcoming event is the first time AGLA has partnered up with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) in presenting the memorial service.
”We have men and women serving in two wars,” Hays says. “We know we have LGBT individuals that are … being forced to serve without telling the truth about who they are. We need to make sure, in addition to fighting for a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ that we also remember those who have served us previously so that we have the freedoms that we currently enjoy.”
That includes Sgt. Leonard Matlovich who is remembered as a pioneer for being one of the first people to challenge the military’s ban on gay people serving in the 1970s. The memorial is scheduled to take place at his gravesite at Congressional Cemetery.
”This event is an opportunity to honor the service and contributions of all LGBT veterans, and to honor and remember that Sgt. Leonard Matlovich was fired for one reason only: his sexual orientation,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of SLDN, said in an e-mail message to Metro Weekly.
”It is important Americans not forget that discrimination continues with today’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.”