Right to Serve Campaign Returns to New York

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: November 3, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Haven Herrin, 469-867-5725, haven@soulforce.org
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(New York, NY) — At 1:00 pm today, Curt Peterson will walk into the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square for an appointment with an Army recruiting officer.

He hopes the recruiter shows up.

Peterson was one of three openly gay Americans who attempted to enlist in Times Square on September 25. When Peterson and his fellow enlistees arrived at the office, they found the country’s busiest recruiting center locked and dark. The would-be recruits held a sit-in with more than eighty supporters from area colleges. Throughout the day, enlistees unaffiliated with the Right to Serve showed up for recruiting appointments, but they found that recruiters had cancelled appointments without notice in order to avoid facing gay Americans who wish to serve their country with honesty and dignity.

Peterson is part of the Right to Serve campaign, a coordinated effort in which young, gay adults are attempting to enlist in the military in order to catalyze national discussion about "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." Since the beginning of the summer, 43 openly gay young people have attempted to enlist in 17 cities. They range from recent high school graduates to recent college graduates, but each one has been denied the opportunity to enlist because of sexual orientation.

Three young people were denied the right to serve on October 10 in Los Angeles. Among them was Vincent Cervantes, a student at Azusa Pacific University. Cervantes and five other Azusa Pacific students were arrested in the sit-in that followed, bringing the total number of arrests in the campaign to 54. The following day, Cervantes posted his testimony as a gay student on the conservative Christian campus, claiming that the experience of standing up for social justice had made it impossible for him to live in the closet. Cervantes has since withdrawn from Azusa rather than submit to "reparative" therapy in accordance with school policy.

Today in Times Square, Peterson, who is a student at Vassar, will be joined by supporters from that institution. If Peterson is again denied the right to enlist, he and his fellow students plan to stage a second peaceful sit-in in Times Square.

The Right to Serve campaign is a project of Soulforce, an LGBT social justice organization dedicated to using nonviolent direct action to expose injustice and call attention to the real costs of homophobia.

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