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Battle of the Ban

by

Danny Ingram,
President, AVER Georgia

As American Veterans for Equal Rights approach our bi-annual convention October 14-18 in Ft. Lauderdale, AVER members may be aware that there are a growing number of LGBT veterans organizations springing around the country to help fight the upcoming Battle of the Ban.  And I think we should welcome them and be willing to work with them.  You may ask yourselves why you should continue to support AVER when there are other alternatives out there.  Some of these groups appear to have more energy, more funding, more technical savvy, and less baggage.  Their members are younger and carry the attention of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Why AVER?  We've been around for a while.  What does AVER have to offer?  What makes us worthy of your continued support?  There is one important quality that AVER has that some of the the newer groups do not have.  It is a special quality, a quality that is precious and invaluable in our struggle for equality.  It is the quality of "gravitas". 

I am the first to admit that in a community that is so obsessed with youth, a 20-something marine looking fine will garner a lot of attention from the LGBT community.  And we should use that.  The new president of the AVER Tennessee chapter, Tim Smith, fits that mold perfectly.  I welcome Tim and look forward to working with him and our new members in the midsouth.  But when it comes to the larger community and creating real change, when my friend 86-year old WW2 vet Jack Strouss stands up in front of a group, they listen.  When Georgia's ranking member, Colonel Arlene Ackerman, speaks out, she receives the respect to which she is entitled.  And to give our community its due, when these 2 ride in the annual Atlanta Pride Parade, the response they are given will bring tears to your eyes, not unlike the tears that Jack describes as fellow grunts on the deck of the great liner Aquitania shed when they first caught glimpse of the Statue of Liberty when returning home from service in Europe. 

That is the one thing that I admire most about AVER, that it gives our senior LGBT folks a very prominent place in our movement,  a place which the "greatest generation", our founders and our source, so greatly deserve.  And it is a place that garners respect from mainstream vets and community leaders nationwide.  I am deeply grateful to my own involvement with AVER for giving me such special friends whom I would have otherwise never met.  That is why AVER is important and worth maintaining.  As we approach our convention in October, we should continue to build the vitality of this organization and keep it on the front lines of the Battle of the Ban as some of our members fought at the Battle of the Bulge.  Our members are the not only the heart and soul of this organization, but the inspiration and the confidence that we will succeed in our mission as we have in countless others throughout our years of service to liberty.  I look forward to seeing you all in Ft. Lauderdale as we renew our courage and commitment to face the upcoming struggle.  Ours is the noble and just cause of calling our country back to itself, of continuing the struggle rather than fleeing in fear of the unknown.  I look forward, with your support and encouragement, to facing our mission of expanding the promise of freedom to those who deserve it most: those who have sworn to uphold it, and those who have shed blood to preserve it.
 

  2009 Gay Military Signal