Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Earlier the month, I was one of three panelists at a Mission Readiness Conference in Oakland, California. The organization called for enhanced summer school and physical fitness programs in the state’s public education. The event was reported on San Francisco Bay Area TV and radio stations.
Mission Readiness is a coalition of 250 retired generals and admirals who support policies and investments that is will assist young Americans to succeed in school and join the military if they wish to do so. The organization is based in Washington, DC.
The coalition's research indicates that nearly 1 in 4 young California adults of military age cannot meet enlistment requirements in America’s armed forces. Nearly 38% have unhealthy weight or are obese; 36% have poor aerobic capacity; and 23% have poor upper body strength. The officers on the panel called for additional physical education in California schools and more funding for remedial academic summer programs to enable youthful applicants to qualify for enlistment.
Although unintentional, the composition of the group of officers demonstrated the increasing diversity of America’s military leaders, including LGBT personnel. The other retired panelists included Major General Paul Monroe, who is African-American and who headed California’s National Guard. It also included Rear Admiral Will Rodriquez, a leader and advocate for the Hispanic community in the sea services.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brigadier General Keith Kerr is a member of SLDN's Military Advisory Council. He came out in the New York Times on the tenth anniversary of the passage of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and has been a tireless advocate for LGBT military service. For a full bio, click here.
07-30-12 By BG Keith Kerr, CSMR (Retired) | Comment (0)
San Diego Pride is this weekend, and for military members participating in the parade, there is a significant degree of confusion surrounding whether service members may wear their uniforms while marching. A service member may not march during the pride parade in uniform unless he or she has received individual approval from his or her command. For more detail, OutServe and SLDN have issued guidance on uniforms at pride.
The confusion seems to have started when San Diego LGBT Pride, the organization responsible for the parade, issued a news release saying that "active duty servicemembers have received approval from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and their commanding officers to march in the America’s Pride Parade Military Contingent while wearing their uniforms." Several service members had received such approval, but no blanket approval covering the San Diego Pride parade was ever issued. The ambiguity in the press release is made clear on the organization's website where military members sign up to march, where the requirement to get pre-approval is explicit.
But a Navy official in San Diego, responding to the confusion, issued a statement saying that the San Diego Pride's press release "is not accurate. There is no such authorization [to wear uniforms while marching] for this parade."
The bottom line, as stated above, is this: it is the responsibility of each service member who wishes to wear a military uniform to pride to obtain individual command approval for doing so.
UPDATE: July 19, 2012, 2:30 p.m. EDT
It has been reported that the Navy (and the Navy only) has given permission to sailors to march in the parade in uniform. According to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Navy spokesperson Brian O'Rourke said that "sailors can march in the Pride Parade in their uniforms but are reminded to obey all Navy and military regulations prohibiting such things as participation in political activities or protests."
It would seem, then, that the Navy has provided blanket approval for sailors to march in uniforms. For members of all other services (including the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard), yesterday's guidance continues to hold true: it is the responsibility of each service member who wishes to wear a military uniform to pride to obtain individual command approval for doing so.
UPDATE: July 19, 2012, 5:20 p.m.
The guidance covering the San Diego Pride parade's military contingent continues to change.
Finally, the Department of Defense has spoken. In a memorandum from the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach, the DoD says the following:
"we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year's parade, provided service members (1) participate in their personal capacity and (2) ensure the adherence to Military Service standards of appearance and wear of the military uniform. This approval is applicable for individual participation in the 2012 San Diego Pride Parade only."
This means that anyone serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or National Guard may wear their uniform to march in the San Diego Pride parade's military contingent, providing they adhere to all other service regulations governing conduct.
07-19-12 By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director | Comment (0)
Last year, OutServe made history when it gathered in Las Vegas for the first-ever OutServe International Leadership Conference following repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Now that our two organizations - OutServe and SLDN are combining - we are making history again.
From October 25-28, 2012, we will be hosting the OutServe-SLDN International Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida. It will be held at the Army's resort, Shades of Green, located inside Walt Disney World Resorts, and it promises to be bigger and better than last year.
The Conference will boast intriguing and groundbreaking panels and workshops that are dedicated to building a stronger and more inclusive military community. It will provide an opportunity for interacting with one another on a variety of timely and important issues, including:
- breaking down barriers to full recognition, support and benefits for LGBT military families and educating policymakers about what's at stake;
- fostering and maintaining an environment of respect in the military with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity;
- building a professional network within the LGBT military community;
- sharing best practices and formulating strategies that help build a stronger military community;
- hearing from our international allies about their experiences in the military;
- and much, much more.
You don't want to miss this. It is open to service members, veterans, partners, spouses, and anyone who has an interest in making the military stronger. Click here to register today and be among the hundreds of participants in this historic conference.
We anticipate the event reaching capacity, so make your plans today.
07-16-12 By Aubrey Sarvis, Army Veteran & SLDN Executive Director and Josh Seefried, OutServe Co-Director | Comment (0)
I just returned to Washington, DC from a trip to New York City, where the SLDN team and I met with our planning committee for the upcoming event, "Celebrating Our Heroes." The event will feature former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and will be a celebration of the first anniversary of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
But the event is more than that. It's also an opportunity to honor all of the men and women serving in our armed forces - as well as our veterans - and recognize their commitment to this nation's enduring values - freedom, independence, and yes, equality.
I can tell you after meeting with our planning committee in New York that you do not want to miss this event. It promises to be a spectacular, star-studded evening worthy of this historic and emotional occasion.
SLDN and our partners at OutServe look forward to seeing you there, along with our inaugural sponsors making this event possible - UBS, Verizon, BNY Mellon, CitiBank, Winston & Strawn, LLP, and the Interbank Roundtable Committee.
Space on the Intrepid is limited. Get your tickets today before they sell out.
07-12-12 By Aubrey Sarvis, Army Veteran & SLDN Executive Director | Comment (0)
The Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET) introduced by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) would bring gay and lesbian service members closer to equal service by providing their spouses with many of the support and benefit programs that their straight married counterparts receive. The Bill accomplishes this by creating a favorable controlling definition of spouse in Titles 10, 32, 37 and 38 of the US Code, which are major sections of the Code governing the military and veterans.
In practical terms, passage of this Bill would provide seventy-seven (77) benefits and support programs to the same-sex spouses of service members. These are all existing statutory benefits currently provided to spouses, but withheld from same-sex spouses by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Some of these benefits are not well known - like language training for military spouses or the continuation of payments if the military spouse is missing in action. But others are major parts of the military family compensation package. Just to name a few, these include
- TriCare coverage for same-sex spouses
- Increased housing allowances to provide for a family
- Survivor benefits for the spouse if a service member passes away on active duty
For a full list of what the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would provide, click here.
In short, the bill would carve out these Titles of the Code from DOMA and allow the military to extend these benefits to all spouses - gay or straight - equally.
07-09-12 By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director | Comment (0)