Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.), the highest ranking female officer in Army history, will keynote a May 13 fundraiser for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). General Kennedy, who spoke out against the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel in an exclusive interview in the Detroit News, joins a growing list of senior retired military officers who are calling for an end to the law.
"General Kennedy is an inspiring advocate on behalf of the men and women who serve in the shadows of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn. "One of the most well-respected voices inside the Pentagon, she brings great credibility to the effort to repeal the ban. We are honored that she will be joining us for our national dinner. General Kennedy becomes the highest-ranking military official to speak at our annual gathering."
Kennedy is a recognized authority on military and intelligence matters and women in the armed forces. In the days following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she served as an on-air consultant for NBC News, and has also been featured on 20/20, CNN Larry King Live, MSNBC and other national media outlets. She is the author of Generally Speaking, a memoir about her Army career, and was named by Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton as her "favorite general."
"The Army damages itself when it doesn't live up to its own values," General Kennedy said in an exclusive interview with columnist Deb Price in the Detroit News. "Gay men and lesbians are serving with honor and distinction. We should focus on people's performance, not on whom they're sleeping with." Kennedy went on to say the armed forces could lift the ban without incident, noting that, "If we set the standard that someone gay should be treated the same, you train to that standard and enforce it."
Kennedy was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1969 through the Women's Army Corps and received a B.A. in Philosophy from Southwestern at Memphis. She is also a graduate of the Women's Army Corps Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, the Junior Officer Cryptologic Career Program at the National Security Agency, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. She served in the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence beginning in May 1997, where she oversaw policies and operations affecting 45,000 people stationed worldwide with a budget of nearly $1 billion.
The SLDN dinner will also feature openly gay former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke, a veteran of the Iraq war, and will honor Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) for her support of Congressional efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." More information is available online at www.sldn.org
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