US: Gay sergeant who criticised ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy dies in car accident

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Darren Manzella, a gay combat medic who was discharged from the US Army after criticising the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, has died in a traffic accident.

The 36-year-old was driving in western New York on Thursday when his vehicle sideswiped another car.

Deputies said he stopped his vehicle, got out and began pushing from behind.

He was then hit by an SUV, and was pinned between the two vehicles.

He died at the scene of the incident.

Mr Manzella first spoke out against the US army’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in 2007, where in the US current affairs show 60 Minutes, he told presenters that his army colleagues and commanders knew his sexuality.

This was later followed by his discharge in 2008 for “homosexual admission,” which was a violation of the policy prohibiting service members from openly coming out as gay.

“My sexual orientation certainly didn’t make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad,” he said of the Army’s decision to discharge him.

“It shouldn’t be a factor in allowing me to continue to serve.”

DADT was officially repealed in September 2011 by President Barack Obama.

Mr Manzella lived in the Chautauqua County town of Portland. He and his partner were married in July.

He first enlisted in the Army in 2002, and was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for service in Iraq. When he was discharged, he was a sergeant serving at Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry Division.