Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America, Inc.
The Seventh Annual National Convention of GLBVA
“Raising the Colors for Our Inclusion”
GLBT Veterans from around the country converged on Denver, Colorado March 29, 2001, for the seventh annual convention of Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America. Speaker after speaker, from Washington D.C. to San Francisco, CA reiterated the same message – The ban against gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers openly serving in the military has to be lifted. No American should have to hide just to serve his or her country. The “Don”t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has proven to be a dismal failure since its inception in 1993. More than 6000 patriotic Americans have been fired just because of who they are. The price for this flawed policy has caused American taxpayers millions of dollars. The brain drain to the military services can never been replaced. The damage to thousands of American citizens is unforgivable.
The lineup of stellar speakers at the convention included Aaron Belkin, Director for the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, University of Southern California at Santa Barbara, Jeff Cleghorn, Staff Attorney for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and renowned author and activist Patricia Nell Warren.
Never give up, never give in – we speak for those who cannot speak for themselves – if we don’t do it, who will – over and over, members of GLBVA were reminded of the tasks that lie ahead. Too many others have given up on this issue. As American veterans who have already been there we cannot afford that luxury.
In addition to our speakers, a variety of informational and hands-on workshops were presented by members and officers of GLBVA. The organization is growing at a rapid rate with the addition of new chapters and members. The time is now to put the pressure on the new administration. The first salvo, the Denver Declaration, has already been launched. Copies have been mailed out to all 535 members of Congress, and to other members of the administration, to let them know who we are and what we want.
The Convention ended on a high note. All participants agreed that – We are patriotic American veterans. We’ve been there. We’ve already proudly serve our country. We have the right to expect our elected officials to honor the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance. That “with liberty and justice for all” includes gay lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans, too. All members left enthusiastic about our next Convention in San Diego in April, 2002.
Jim Darby National Secretary
Click to read the National President’s Convention Address