60 Minutes to Cover “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Wartime Policy

This Sunday, on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl will look into the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, offering evidence in the form of Army Sgt. Darren Manzella that the armed forces look the other way during wartime, refusing to discharge troops even in the face of “graphic proof” that they are gay.

Darren_manzellaAccording to CBS: “Manzella, a medic who served in Iraq for a year, currently serves as medical liaison for the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Kuwait, where he says he is ‘out’ to his entire chain of command, including a three-star general. After leaving Iraq, he started receiving anonymous emails warning him about his openness that suggested he was being watched, so he went to his commander to head off an investigation he felt was coming. ‘I didn’t know how else to do it,’ he tells Stahl, acknowledging that he initiated an investigation of himself by violating the policy. ‘I felt more comfortable being the one to say, ‘This is what is real,” Manzella says. He then says his commander reported him, as he was obliged to do, and then ‘I had to go see my battalion commander, who read me my rights,’ he says. He turned over pictures of him and his boyfriend, including video of a passionate kiss, to aid the investigation. But to his surprise, ‘I was told to go back to work. There was no evidence of homosexuality,’ says Manzella. ”You’re not gay,” he says his superiors told him. This response confused him and, he says, the closest a superior officer came to addressing his sexuality was to say ‘I don’t care if you’re gay or not.'”

ManzellaThe Servicemen’s Legal Defense Network commented on the CBS piece. Said SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis: “Sergeant Manzella’s story illustrates the arbitrary and uneven enforcement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. Many commands, like Manzella’s, recognize that their lesbian and gay troops are instrumental in the work of defending our country. Those commanders, who want to do the right thing and retain good troops, should not have their hands tied by this unfair law. Our nation’s commitment to fairness and civil liberties demands an end to this law, and our national security interests are best served by repealing it.”

According to SLDN, “Sergeant Manzella joined the Army in April 2002 and deployed to Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, in March of 2004. He provided medical coverage during more than one hundred 12-hour patrols on the streets of Baghdad. While under fire, Manzella cared for Iraqi National Guardsmen, Iraqi civilians and his fellow service members, earning him the Combat Medical Badge, a swift promotion and several other awards honoring his courage and duty to service. He returned for a second tour of duty in the Middle East in 2006 and is currently stationed in Kuwait.”

60 Minutes airs on Sunday at 7 pm EST.

Military Soft On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? [cbs news]
CBS Newsmagazine 60 Minutes to Feature Out, Active Duty Army Sergeant [sldn]

Comments

  1. Micol says

    This is a great story and I am ready to watch on Sunday. The only problem that I see is now that this has been publicized, the superiors that have protected him and looked the other way are now going to be subject to disciplinary action and let’s not forget that the political fallout of this has not even begun yet. Unfortunately this guys Military career is now all but over. He will most likely face discharge.

  2. Brian says

    Micol’s right… there’ll be some consequences from this program. He’ll likely be discharged. Maybe that’s what he wanted all along.

    Travis is right, too. Dude is adorable. I smell a photo shoot coming on…

  3. says

    DA/DT has always been completely arbitrary. If the Army really needs you and your commander doesn’t care so much about the policy, then you could have sex with your boyfriend on your commander’s desk and he would look the other way. If you have a commander who’s a John Wayne/Jesus freak, then you’re one show tune reference away from an investigation for “homosexual acts.”

    I know that sounds silly, but it’s reality. I was a JAG in the Army and once had a commander ask me if he could start an investigation in to homosexual acts because a soldier lived off post and “had cats.” Seriously.

  4. wetcnt says

    If every gay person in the military were to stand up and say “I am gay” they would have no choice but to get rid of this policy. That or kick out a huge number of people.

    This soldier is doing exactly the right thing.

  5. anon (gmail.com) says

    While this does hint at how the army really works, 60 Minutes normally has all the reliability of Weekly World News. Plenty of servicemen and women have been kicked out during the past couple of years for DADT violations. If your commander wants to get rid of you, he’ll find a reason to do so. Manzella looks like he was trying to get kicked out (for whatever reason), but soldiers don’t have a say in the matter. He’s also not in combat. I imagine the policy will next be modified as a compromise to allow gays to serve in non-combat roles–like women.

  6. says

    What I am about to say is wrong. Very wrong, and should not be uttered during this very serious conversation about DA/DT but I can’t help myself:

    Darren Manzella. More like “Manzilla,” a monster sent to take your breath away.

    Thank you for letting me get that out. Back to talking about important things.

  7. Brian says

    Crispy honey, have you SEEN who Reichen is dating right now? This dude is adorable, but nowhere near as hot as Reichen’s bf.

    Of course if Army guy starts getting more press than Reichen’s bf, then all bets are off.

  8. John says

    I’m sorry, I know this is beside the point, but sweet Jesus that man is beautiful.

    Wow.

    Oh and, uh, good for him for speaking out and stuff (this is to assuage my guilt for being distracted from the point of the post).

  9. Scott says

    Of course it’s not beside the point. If he were ugly, nobody would care about this. Same with gay bashing victims…they’re only news if they’re young and cute.

  10. says

    Joel, I know, right. That passionate kiss photo, maybe we could add some sexy shirt-less solo pictures in the barracks, make a calendar. This guy just came out into a brand-new career…

    That’s it! I’ve officially disgusted myself. Please talk about serious things and ignore me.

    This is why I could never be a serious news guest on “Anderson Cooper 360.” All my answers would start with “So very pretty…”

  11. RJ says

    Scott, what you say about good looks has a lot of truth. Of course, that often is the case for many other things in society. The armed forces also seem to prefer attractive individuals for its recruitment posters and videos.

  12. Tony, West Hollywood says

    I was discharged after 3 years while on deployment for the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy . My Executive Officer said that he would look the other way if I didn’t want him to follow through, but that I would also have to ignore the homophobic command climate. He said that the black civil rights movement wasn’t won by the people who tried to make a difference but by the people who went to work each day and made a difference by their presence. I appreciated his support, but just disagreed. Now, I am completely happy and make a lot more money.

    Manzella is a total hottie!

  13. anon (gmail.com) says

    I suppose “poster child” is appropriate here, and that 60 Minutes found in him the perfect image too. At this rate we’ll have the best looking army in the world. Maybe the policy should be “Don’t Look, Don’t Judge”.

  14. says

    60 Minutes will also air a segment about an expedition into New Guinea’s Foja Mountains where they’ve recently discovered many new and missing species. This is the first video from that region.
    Along with this very fine Manzella creature, it seems like a good week to watch 60 Minutes.

  15. James McKoy says

    To Leslie Stahl, Your recent piece on 60 minutes about the gays in the Military, was at the very least repugant. The pictures of gays kissing was repulsive and irresponible on your part. there is no question on which side of the equation you are pushing. You should be ashame, by the way if there weren’t consideratives in the military you could be living under a different kind of government.

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