A Jan. 8, 2008 file photo of Sgt. Darren Manzella speaking with reporters about serving under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, at the National Press Club in Washington. / J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Visiting hours and funeral services have been scheduled for Darren Manzella, a former U.S. Army sergeant who fought against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The family will welcome visitors from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Morse Funeral Home, 51 Highland Ave. Brocton, Chautauqua County.
Funeral services will begin at 11 am. Tuesday at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church, 12 Central Ave., in Brocton, Chautauqua County. Burial will take place at Portland Evergreen Cemetery.
Full military honors will be provided by the U.S. Army National Guard in conjunction with the local American Legion post.
Manzella was killed Thursday evening while trying to push his car off the highway in Pittsford following an accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Manzella, 36, became a prominent figure in the push to reverse the military policy that barred gay members of the military from revealing their sexuality.
He was discharged from the U.S. Army months after a December 2007 interview in which he told the CBS show 60 Minutes that he was gay.
The policy was repealed in 2011.
Manzella married his partner in July, and was living in Rochester. His friends and supporters say he showed tremendous strength, revealing his sexuality while serving in the Army.
"Sgt. Manzella put a proud and brave face on the 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal fight, telling America and the Pentagon on 60 Minutes that he was a gay soldier about to complete another tour of duty in the Middle East," Aubrey Sarvis, the former director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, or SLDN, said in a statement.
"Darren understood he would most likely be discharged under that terrible law, but still, he wanted to make the fight to hasten the day 'don't ask, don't tell' would end," said Sarvis, whose organization fights for the rights of gay and lesbian servicemembers.
Manzella worked for SLDN for several months after his discharge, Sarvis said. Manzella "continued to tell his story to policy makers on Capitol Hill and at the White House, and clearly his story made a huge difference and moved lawmakers to act."
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle