Key Soldier in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Fight Killed in Car Accident

Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-30 16:38:44-04

t1larg.manzella.cnnROCHESTER, New York– A leader in the fight against the Armed Forces’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy died after a car accident in Rochester, New York Thursday night, according to several sources.

Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, 36, was the first openly gay service member to speak to the press from a war zone.  He served in Iraq and Kuwait as a medic, and earned a Combat Medical Badge for treating soldiers while under fire.  He would have celebrated his two-month anniversary with his husband, Javier Lapeira, next week.

Manzella came out on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2007 after he came out to his Army commanders and was investigated, but not discharged.  Following the CBS interview, he was honorably discharged in 2008.  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2010.