The Newsletter of American Veterans For Equal Rights New York
A Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. Two Spirit. People of All Colors, Veterans’ Association


You don’t have to ask, we’re telling


SPRING 2008 Update

In the NYC Veterans' Day Parade, last November, AVERNY again had a block long contingent made fabulous by being joined by New York's Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band. The band had their famed rainbow color guard, baton tossers, and ballet dancers thrilling the crowd as the band paraded up Fifth Avenue festooned in rainbow sashes and white plumed uniforms playing Americana marching tunes. 

We were also honored to be joined in the parade by WWII Vet Elmer Lokkins and his partner of 63 years Gus Archilla. Additionally, AVERNY has been blessed and proud to have transgender veterans marching with us in Pride. Our Disabled Veterans Vehicle, an SUV driven by acting AVERNY Treasurer  John Pulhamus, was full carrying senior LGBT vets who were proud to participate.

February 2008 found AVERNY board members once again in the New York City Council chamber testifying in favor of the City's second Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal resolution. The Council's first such resolution in 2005, initiated by AVERNY, was the first in the nation and led to similar resolutions in cities and states across America. This time, the current resolution was introduced by the Speaker of the NYC Council, openly lesbian Christine Quinn, and co-sponsored by the Chairman of the Council Committee on Civil Rights Larry Seabrook and the Chairman of the Council Committee on Veterans Hiram Monserrate. Councilman Monserrate has a large constituency of traditional veterans' associations; his current co-sponsorship 

likely led to the remarkable testimonyin favor of the repeal of DADT by twostraight 50ish Vietnam vets. Each spoke poignantly of how he had come to change his mind about gays in the military from his previous attitude. Times have changed, they said, and they now believe that any patriotic American should have the right to choose to serve our nation regardless of sexual orientation. Council Civil Rights Committee Chair Larry Seabrook spoke eloquently about how the racial discrimination he had experienced and witnessed has resulted in his realizing that the disenfranchisement of LGBT Americans, especially those who have volunteered to serve in the military, is intolerable. Also testifying at the hearing were LGBT vets Rhonda Davis, Brian Fricke, Cholene Espanoza, Heather Saver and Denny Meyer. Nathanial Frank testified representing the Palm Center. Councilman Monserrate is being given AVERNY's 2008 Democracy Pride Award for Legislative Valor in recognition of his leadership in leading the local veterans' community to evolve in affirming our right to choose to serve.

In March 2008 AVERNY participated in a NYC conference on LGBT aging, presenting the needs and concerns of senior LGBT veterans. In April, AVERNY met with the program director of the NYC VA Vet Center, who had requested advice on how to better serve returning LGBT combat veterans. And also in April 2008 AVERNY had a both at New York's GLBT Expo combined with TAVA and The Gay Military Times.