Don't Ask, Don't Tell Tumbling?

Gay Soldier’s Words Breaking Silence

Soldier Darren Manzella broke new ground by coming out on 60 Minutes. While one would expect some repurcussions for such a public rejection of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Manzella says he’s been greeted by official – and welcome – silence. What’s more: he’s learned he’s not alone:

“I thought I would at least be asked about the segment or approached and told I shouldn’t speak to the media again,” says Manzella, 30, a medic who recently returned from Kuwait and plans to hold a news conference today in Washington to discuss the military’s silence.

He says he is among a growing number of servicemembers who have told other troops and even commanders they are gay and have not been discharged.

Manzella says he was invited to join more than 600 members of an invitation-only MySpace group, Guys and Gals Like Us, for gays who don’t hide their orientation from their units. The members use pseudonyms because some gay servicemembers have been discharged for acknowledging their sexual orientation elsewhere online.

“A lot of servicemembers are getting ‘wink-wink’ treatment from their commanders,” says Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara…

While the military establishment keeps mum, rabble-rousing Elaine Donnelly from the Center for Military Readiness wants military injustice: “[Manzella’s] commanders should be disciplined appropriately for failing to do their duty.” Said commanders have yet to return Donnelly’s call.