(New York, NY) — Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), OutServe, and the Interbank Roundtable Committee (IRC) will present "Celebrating Our Heroes: A Tribute to America's Service Members & Veterans," next Tuesday, September 18 aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Marking the first anniversary of the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law, the event will be a tribute to American service members and veterans and will honor former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who played a significant leadership role in repeal, which took place on September 20, 2011. Barbara Walters, ABC news correspondent and co-host of The View,will emcee the event featuring remarks by Admiral Mullen and three Broadway ensemble performances.
"This historic and emotional event presents a unique — indeed, a once in a lifetime — opportunity to reinforce the meaningful part that Admiral Mullen played in the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal process. No one played a more pivotal role than Admiral Mullen in securing the support of Congress and the military for repeal," said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
Members of Congress and observers alike sat transfixed as Mullen testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 2, 2010, at the height of the repeal fight, saying:
"No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
Added Sarvis: "Barbara Walters as our emcee for the evening makes an already exciting lineup even more spectacular. It's only fitting that America's most influential and accomplished journalist - who has made history herself a time or two - would join us for this historic and emotional event."
Walters has arguably interviewed more political figures and celebrities than any other journalist in history. She is so well known that her name and a brief biography is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary. In September 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent of ABC News' 20/20, Ms. Walters left the show to begin a new phase in her career at the network as co-owner, co-executive producer and co-host of The View. She remains an active member of the news division and network, substantially increasing the number of primetime ABC News specials, in addition to her "Barbara Walters Specials." Through the years she has interviewed such world figures as Russia's Boris Yeltsin, China's Premier Jiang Zemin, Great Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya's Moammar Qadaffi and Iraq's President Sadaam Hussein. She was also the first American journalist to interview Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the first to interview President and Mrs. Bush following September 11. She has interviewed every American President and First Lady since Richard Nixon. She made journalism history by arranging the first joint interview with Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin in November 1977.
The September 18 celebration in New York City will be the first in a series events hosted by SLDN and OutServe across the country during the week to commemorate the first year of open service by America's gay and lesbian service members. It is sponsored by: UBS - Verizon - Bank of America - Bloomberg - BNY Mellon - DiversityInc - Viacom - Winston & Strawn LLP - Absolut - Citigroup - Ernst & Young - GlaxoSmithKline - HBO - Hilton Worldwide - Human Rights Campaign - Hershey's - Log Cabin Republicans - Merck - Miller Lite - Renna Communications - UPS - Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids - Comcast & NBC/Universal - Credit Suisse - GM - Informatica - SAP - Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP - Gay City News - FSIX - Interbank Roundtable Committee - The OUT NYC - KTCHN - XL Nightclub
The event will begin with a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m. A general admission event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude at 9:30 p.m. For more information, to sponsor the event, or to purchase tickets, visit www.sldn.org/intrepid2012. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located at Pier 86 in New York City.
Media covering the event should adhere to the following schedule
5:00 p.m. Media check in begins outside the Intrepid Welcome Center
5:15 p.m. Media allowed access to red carpet arrivals area
5:30 p.m. Red carpet arrivals begin, scheduled appearances include, but are not limited to the following. A complete list will be provided on-site. Admiral and Mrs. Mullen will walk the carpet at 5:30 p.m. sharp.
Admiral Mike Mullen & Deborah Mullen. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Senior military advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Barbara Walters. Multiple Emmy Award Winning ABC News correspondent; "The Barbara Walters Specials"; Creator, co-host and executive producer of ABC Daytime's "The View"
Eric Alva. Staff Sergeant Eric Alva was the first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War. On March 21, 2003, he was in charge of 11 Marines in a supply unit when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg. He began working as a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign in 2006 speaking out for the repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Elizabeth Birch. Former president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Lindsay Czarniak. ESPN SportsCenter anchor and correspondent.
Zoe Dunning. U. S. Naval Academy graduate and gay rights activist. She is the first and only openly gay person allowed to remain on active duty in the military prior to the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
Melvin Dwork. 90-year-old SLDN client and successful interior designer in NYC. Expelled from the Navy in 1944 for being gay, military now changing his discharge status nearly 70 years later from "undesirable" to "honorable" — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach. A decorated aviator, with three combat tours and 88 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach, received nine Air Medals for distinguished service. After more than two years challenging his discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with legal assistance provided by SLDN LLP he successfully retired from the Air Force on 9/30/2011.
Sue Fulton. Was among the first women to graduate from West Point in 1980. Founding board member of both Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point graduates and allies and OutServe, the organization of actively-serving LGBT military personnel. In July 2011, President Obama named her to the Board of Visitors at West Point, making her the first openly gay member of the board.
Major Stephen Hill. Army reservist with 18 years of service and a veteran of Operation Desert Shield. Drew national interest when he was booed during the Fox News/Google Republican Presidential Debate last September after asking a question via video about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Randy Jones. Original cowboy from the legendary pop/disco group The Village People.
Staff Sergeant Anthony Loverde. SLDN client discharged under DADT. In April 2012, SLDN reached a resolution in his case, making him the second person to be reinstated to his prior position and rank in the military following repeal of DADT.
Bob McCann. CEO of UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas.
Craig Melvin. MSNBC anchor, NBC News correspondent, and Today Show contributor.
Ken Mehlman. Campaign manager for the 2004 re-election campaign of George W. Bush and Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007.
Former Congressman Patrick Murphy. Author of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Iraq War veteran.
Christine C. Quinn. Speaker of the New York City Council. Quinn is the first female and first openly gay Speaker.
Thomas Roberts. MSNBC anchor.
Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Better known as The Fabulous Beekman Boys, the third season of their popular reality show debuts on the Cooking Channel this fall. In 2012, CBS announced that Ridge and Purcell had been cast in the 21st season of The Amazing Race.
Mike Ruiz. TV personality, actor, former model, acclaimed photographer. Has appeared on Logo's The A-List New York and RuPaul's Drag Race.
Aubrey Sarvis. Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director. Leading figure in the movement to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Prominently featured in the HBO documentary, The Strange History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Josh Seefried. Co-founder and co-director of OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel. Author of Our Time: Breaking the Silence of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, released in softcover in August 2012.
Lisa Sherman. Executive Vice President and General Manager of Logo, the leading ad-supported entertainment network for gays and their families and friends, from Viacom Media Networks. Sherman oversees all programming, production, management, business and operations of the brand.
Laurie Tisch. President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Sits on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and Columbia University. Co-owner and member of the board of directors of the New York Giants.
Emily Tisch Sussman. Executive Director of Young Democrats of America, the nation's largest partisan, youth-led political organization. Emily formerly served as the Co-Director of Government Affairs for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, where she represented LGBT servicemembers and was a leading figure in the movement to repeal the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law.
Tamara Tunie. In her tenth TV season as Medical Examiner Melinda Warner in Wolf Films/Universal Media Studio's top-rated series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Tunie is married to Gregory Generet, a well-known jazz musician.
Major Margaret "Margie" Witt, USAF. Decorated, 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who made history in 2010 with her successful constitutional challenge of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). Three months after she was ordered reinstated, Congress repealed the law.
7:30 p.m. Stage Program Begins. Scheduled appearances include but are not limited to:
Former Congressman Patrick Murphy
Admiral Mike Mullen & Deborah Mullen
Kate Shindle. Former Miss America. Has appeared on Broadway in Wonderland, Legally Blonde, Cabaret.
Katie Rose Clarke. Former star of Wicked on Broadway, playing the role of Glinda.
Janet Dacal. Created the role of Alice in the hit musical, Wonderland, on Broadway. Has recorded with Grammy award winning artists Gloria Estafan and Jon Secada.
Zakiya Young. Broadway star of The Little Mermaid and Stick Fly, produced by Alicia Keys.
Julia Murney. Played the role of Elphaba in the first national touring company of the musical Wicked. Solo recording artist.
9:30 p.m. Event Concludes
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100. For more information, visit www.sldn.org .
ABOUT OUTSERVE: OutServe is the association of actively-serving LGBT military personnel. With more than 5,500 members and 50+ chapters worldwide, it is one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world. OutServe works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. For more information, visit www.outserve.org .
ABOUT INTERBANK ROUNDTABLE COMMITTEE: The Interbank Roundtable Committee's (IRC) is a voluntary NY-based 'network of networks' with representatives from 28 financial services industry organization's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Employee Resource Groups (ERG). The IRC serves as an open forum where members share best practices on promoting inclusive work environments and policies, engaging senior management and straight allies, building ERG membership and coordinating networking, professional development, and philanthropic activities across the industry. The IRC helps members build their professional network within the financial industry, while also promoting the financial industry as the industry of choice for LGBT individuals. For more information, visit www.interbanknyc.org .