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Gay Vet, Discharged Under DADT,
Elected President of American
Veterans For Equal Rights

Photo Essay by Denny Meyer

Danny Ingram, a former US Army Sergeant who was among the first to be discharged in 1994 under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) law, was elected president of American Veterans For Equal Rights (AVER) at its convention in Ft. Lauderdale 15-18 Oct.  Sgt Ingram, of Atlanta, will lead the largest national veteran service organization dedicated to serving the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender vets, and advocating the repeal of the law banning open service of gay military personnel.

Retired USCG CPO Julz Carey was elected Vice President of AVER,  Retired USCG CPO NIck Jackman  was elected Secretary, and Mark LaFontaine was reelected as Treasurer.


Julz Carey


Nick Jackman


Mark LaFontaine

"No American soldier should ever die on the battlefield because the medic who could have saved his or her life was kicked out of the military for loving the wrong person", said Ingram following his installation as AVER president.

Speakers at the convention included Arab linguist Lt. Dan Choi who is in the process of being dismissed after appearing on national television proclaiming his homosexuality. At the recent LGBT National Equality March in Washington DC, Choi held his fist in the air and asserted, “I’m telling, I’m telling, I’m telling.”

 

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Nathaniel Frank whose new book "Unfriendly Fire" documents the political history of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law.

 

President Ingram was sworn into office by John McNeill, a WWII veteran who served in General George S. Patton's Third Army, an AVER member, Purple Heart recipient, former Catholic Priest and Prisoner of War captured in the Battle of the Bulge.  McNeill is the author of "The Church and the Homosexual,” among other books. 


Delegates representing AVER chapters from New York to Seattle gathered for the AVER convention which included workshops on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), VA benefits, and legislation aimed towards ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.


James Darby, AVER Region III VP, President of Chicago AVER, and Forward Observer Editor, received an AVER  medal for his work.


LeAnna Bradley received her Purple Heart for wounds during service in Vietnam as a Sea Bee

"It is the duty, the honor, and the right of every American to help defend our nation's liberty", said Ingram.  “We are ready for the final battle to end this shameful and wasteful ban, which not only jeopardizes our national security and the safety of our soldiers by removing highly qualified individuals from the war against terror, but undermines the very mission of our armed forces to defend our American freedom, so that patriotic Americans who choose to volunteer may honorably and openly serve their country regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”


Danny Ingram, President of AVER, performs Taps, at the AVER national convention

  2009 Gay Military Signal, AVER