Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Over the weekend, SLDN attended the 24th annual Creating Change, a conference on national LGBT equality hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. This event brings thousands of people together, from activists and advocates at the state and local level, to lobbyists and executive directors of state and federal campaigns and organizations. Over five days, a variety of meetings, events, and workshops take place, helping members of the LGBT community educate themselves about various aspects of the equality movement and how we can all work together and share best practices to achieve our shared goals.
On Friday evening, SLDN's Legal Director, David McKean, and I led a caucus discussion on the issues facing LGBT service members in the post-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) military. The audience was comprised mostly of active duty and reserve service members as well as veterans.
At the heart of the session, David and I covered the five areas on which SLDN is focused now that repeal of DADT is done. They include calling on the Obama Administration to issue an executive order or directive, prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the military on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. These would give service members recourse, outside the chain of command, should they be facing harassment or discrimination.
We discussed SLDN's new landmark court case, fighting for equality of benefits and support for LGBT service members. Apart from the litigation, we talked about SLDN's petition to Secretary Panetta that all benefits and family support services not blocked by DOMA or other federal statutes be conferred upon legally married same-gender service members and veterans. And of course, you can't talk about denial of benefits and not talk about repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is among SLDN's top priorities.
We highlighted SLDN's ongoing commitment to transgender service. Barred by outdated medical and conduct regulations that were not a part of DADT, transgender service members face the threat of discharge daily. SLDN is working to overturn these regulations, and we know that a large-scale, well-funded, and sustained strategic education campaign about transgender military service is a necessity in order for us to achieve change in this important area.
Finally, we talked about our work to clean up the discharge paperwork for those discharged under DADT or the prior regulatory ban.
The upcoming elections in November - and the possibility of a majority in Congress or a new administration hostile to LGBT equality - also loomed large in our discussions on Friday and were the backdrop of a number of other workshops at Creating Change. While we do not know what the future will bring, SLDN remains on the front lines protecting and defending the progress we have made even as we push for more. And that is where we'll be until the job is done.
For more about SLDN's newest initiatives aimed at achieving full equality in the military, click here.
01-30-12 By Jeremy Wilson-Simerman, SLDN Government Affairs Director | Comment (0)
01-27-12 By Zeke Stokes, SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
01-22-12 By Aubrey Sarvis, Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Directors | Comment (0)
01-20-12 By Zeke Stokes, SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
01-16-12 By Aubrey Sarvis, Army Veteran & SLDN Executive Director | Comment (0)
01-13-12 By Zeke Stokes, SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
01-13-12 By David McKean, Legal Director, SLDN | Comment (0)
01-05-12 By Jeremy Wilson-Simerman, SLDN Government Affairs Co-Director | Comment (0)