UVa Students Protest Ban In Military

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

September 27, 2006

An Albemarle County shopping center was the scene of a sit-in, as a group of UVa students protested the fact that openly gay people can not enlist in the military.

Wyatt Fore along with several others are taking a stand, by taking a seat, right in front of the military recruitment center in Albemarle County.

"For a country that claims to be of liberty and justice for all, spreading democracy around the world, this piece of government sanctioned discrimination can only hurt our nation," said Fore.

The group says they want to bring attention to the government's don't ask, don't tell policy, which prohibits anyone openly gay from joining or staying in the military.

It's all part of the national Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign. According to Fore, himself and another student were rejected from joining about a month ago because they are openly gay.

Wednesday morning three of them tried again to enlist, but were met with locked doors. The group says it's a shame because they really want to sign up.

"I've always been interested in serving my country, but I never thought I could serve in the military before, knowing the don't ask, don't tell policy," said Protester Rachel Miller.

"My dad's in the military right now and I was actually wanting to join the military," said Protester Alvin Valdez.

Police did come to move the students away from the front door or the recruitment office, saying they were creating a hostage situation for the employees inside, but soon left for them to continue their demonstration. It’s one that the students say matters so much.

"One thing we'd like to make very clear is that Rachel, Alvin and I are 100% serious in joining the military, but we are not willing to lie as a condition of our service," said Fore.

The property manager says that he doesn't plan on having the students arrested, as long as they don't block the front door or cause a problem for anyone inside or any of the other businesses.

The protesters say they will return to protest again on Thursday.

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