The Georgia chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights will march in today’s Veteran’s Day Parade through downtown Atlanta, saying now is the time to show power in numbers especially as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” faces a grim future.
Alejandro Lopez, president of the Georgia chapter of AVER, served in the U.S. Army in administration and as a paratrooper from 1984-1989, before DADT was implemented. He remembers, however, being investigated in 1986 for being gay.
“I was at a restaurant and when I left a person with CID [Criminal Investigation Division] came up to me and asked if I was gay. I told him I was not on duty, I was not on base,” Lopez remembers. From that day on he said he realized an investigation was ongoing into his sexual orientation. He received an honorable discharge in 1989.
There are so many other stories like these, Lopez said, and he hopes all veterans who served and who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender will volunteer to march in this year’s Veteran’s Day Parade to show their pride in who they are. The contingent will carry a rainbow flag to ensure visibility as LGBT vets.
“There is power in numbers. We need to show up and demonstrate to the public we are proud to be gay and to have served our country,” Lopez said.
A Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s fundraiser is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. as well to raise funds to fight DADT.
The SLDN fundraiser, at the home of Randy New, Esq., and Dr. Russell Tippins, will include SLDN Atlanta board member Jeff Cleghorn, Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis, and SLDN’s entire Military Advisory Council.
Lopez said he and national AVER president, Danny Ingram of Atlanta, will also be attending the fundraiser.
The first year AVER participated, the judges at the judge’s table turned their backs when the gay vets marched past. The second year, the group was not even acknowledged when groups were announced. But the third year, nothing controversial happened, Lopez said.This year will mark the fourth year Georgia’s chapter of AVER will be marching in Atlanta’s Veteran’s Day parade.
“This is not a time to be afraid of who you are and afraid to show your face,” Lopez added. “Anyone who is willing to march with us is welcome.”
The parade begins at 11:11 a.m. on Saturday. Georgia’s AVER chapter will be meeting at approximately 10 a.m. at the Civic Center MARTA station to set up for the parade.
People who want to march are asked to email Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 404-429-1316.
Home of Randy New and Russell Tippins
4 Polo Drive, Atlanta, GA 30309