Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Week in Review - February 8, 2013

No Movement on Reports of Panetta Action on Benefits. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was expected this week to announce the long-delayed extension of support and benefits for gay and lesbian military families, according to reports first made by the Washington Post. Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson released this statement, indicating the hopes of OutServe-SLDN that Panetta will take full advantage of this final opportunity to act before leaving office. As of the time of this briefing, the Pentagon had announced no action. 

Robinson to Hold First Online Town Hall for OutServe Chapter Leaders, Members. OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson will hold a first-of-its-kind online town hall meeting exclusively for actively serving OutServe members to discuss her first 100 days as ED, as well as answer questions and listen to comments. The event, "Fort Bragg, Hagel, and the Path Forward," will take place via Google Hangout and Twitter. For more information, click here

OutServe-SLDN National Dinner Set for March 9. Tickets are on sale for OutServe-SLDN's 2013 National Dinner taking place on Saturday, March 9 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The first announcement of special guests came this week and includes former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and reality stars The Fabulous Beekman Boys, winners of the CBS series, The Amazing Race. Additional special guests will be announced next week. Click here to purchase tickets.

By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)

Week in Review - February 1, 2013


Hagel Renews Commitment to Action in Confirmation Hearing Testimony. Consistent with his recent public statements, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel reiterated his commitment to do everything possible under current law to provide gay and lesbian service members and their families with equal benefits and support on Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill. Hagel said he would move quickly upon confirmation to create greater equity for gay and lesbian service members and their families should he become Secretary of Defense. OS-SLDN's Allyson Robinson was on the Hill and released this statement at the conclusion of the hearing.

Robinson Op-ed on Hagel Featured in Washington Post. Meanwhile, OS-SLDN's Allyson Robinson published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Wednesday on the eve of the hearing, calling on Hagel - should he be confirmed - to make good on his commitment to LGBT military families and on the vision President Obama set forth in his inaugural address last month. For the full text of the op-ed, click here.

Gillibrand, Shaheen Call on Panetta to Act. Senate Armed Services Committee members Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to end his two-year silence on extending recognition, support, and benefits to LGBT service members and their families as the law currently allows before he leaves his post at the Pentagon. OS-SLDN praised this move with a news release following up its own similar calls last week. To read the news release, click here

Get Your Tickets Now for March 9 National Dinner. The 2013 OS-SLDN National Dinner on March 9 is quickly approaching and tickets are going fast. To secure your spot, it's important that you purchase tickets as quickly as possible. This event sold out last year, and OS-SLDN expects the same this year. Announcements about special guests will be coming soon. Purchase tickets here

By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)

Spouses club relents, says lesbian Army wife can be ‘full member’

By Bill Briggs, NBC News contributor

Hours after same-sex Army wife Ashley Broadway was named Fort Bragg's 2013 “spouse of the year,” the on-base spouses club — that has for two months rebuffed Broadway's bid to join — fully reversed course and invited her "to become a full member," according to emails sent to NBC News and Broadway.

The decision comes one week after the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses (ABOS) extended Broadway — who is married to Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack — a "special guest membership," an invitation she declined and called "extremely demeaning."

To read the entire article click here

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The Trans Woman Who Is Taking on the Military

Decorated Army veteran Allyson Robinson has some major plans for the country’s only organization dedicated to serving LGBT people in uniform.

BY SUNNIVIE BRYDUM

Allyson Robinson is a decorated veteran, a wife, a mother, an ordained Baptist minister, and the executive director of the recently combined advocacy organization for LGBT people in uniform, OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The Army veteran was tapped to lead the 6,000-member organization in October, and her appointment is noteworthy not only because she is one of the few women leading a military group but also because she is the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT organization.

Robinson’s appointment is anything but an affirmative-action hire, said retired Navy captain April Heinze, cochair of OutServe-SLDN’s Board of Directors in a statement announcing the hire. “Allyson Robinson is exactly the right person at the right time to be our leader and voice in Washington in the fight to achieve full LGBT equality in the military,” said Heinze.

To read the enitire article click here

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LGBT Groups Fight Back Against Military Policies That Exclude Same-Sex Spouses

LGBT Groups Fight Back Against Military Policies That Exclude Same-Sex Spouses

OutServe-SLDN seeks records of Fort Bragg leaders' discussions regarding the spouses group that meets at the base. The Human Rights Campaign is asking Defense Secretary Panetta for action now to help address the situation.

Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed Staff

WASHINGTON — The Army leadership at Fort Bragg is facing a public records request from the leading LGBT military group, seeking information on whether the military leaders are "working for them or against them," following BuzzFeed's Tuesday report that the Army would not stop a spouses group from meeting on the military base there despite the group's policy against allowing the same-sex partner of officers.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the legal director of OutServe-SLDN submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking communications over the past six months relating to the membership policies of the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses, which denied membership to Ashley Broadway. Broadway is married to Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack.

To read the entire article click here.

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Marines Lead, Ft. Bragg Lags and Hagel Waits

My military career began in the summer of 1990 when I reported for duty at West Point to begin "Beast Barracks" -- six weeks of hard-core military indoctrination that begin the long, arduous process of molding high schoolers into leaders of character to serve the nation. As part of that process, new cadets -- or plebes, as they are known -- must commit to memory a book full of what our upper class instructors called "knowledge," but that seemed more like trivia -- from facts about military customs and courtesies, to the number of gallons of water in the post reservoir, to quotes from famous and not-so-famous generals. At the time it seemed like just another excuse for our cadre to harass us; only in hindsight did the purpose become clear.

One item of plebe knowledge that has stuck with me was an excerpt from the standing orders given by Army General William Worth to the battalion he commanded in the War of 1812. Worth states, in part, "An officer on duty knows no one -- to be partial is to dishonor both himself and the object of his ill-advised favor." At a time when cronyism and corruption were rife in America's Army, Worth argued for impartiality as the hallmark of effective leadership -- a principle that served me well during my own time commanding troops.

To read the full story click here.

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About the ACLU Settlement on DADT Separation Pay

You may have seen the exciting news yesterday that the ACLU and the Department of Defense reached a settlement in the case of Collins v. United States, a class-action suit for military separation pay. The suit challenged the Defense Department’s policy of only paying half the separation pay that service members’ separated for homosexual conduct would have otherwise received. The settlement announced yesterday covers:

“All United States service members who at any time from November 10, 2004 through the present were involuntarily separated from the military and were, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1174, entitled to full separation pay, but were deemed to be not fully qualified for retention and denied reenlistment or continuation because of homosexuality and therefore had their separation pay reduced by one-half.”

A number of people have asked if they fall into this group. Based on the settlement agreement, it appears that in order to qualify service members:

  • Must have been discharged on or after November 10, 2004;
  • Must have been discharged solely for homosexuality or homosexual conduct; and
  • Must have been eligible for and received half separation pay when they were discharged.

If a service member falls into this class, the settlement agreement specifies that the Department of Defense must attempt to notify the service member at their last known address to inform them that they can opt-in to the class. A sample notification letter is included in the settlement agreement.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify for this class or should qualify for this class, please contact the ACLU.

Read the ACLU’s statement on the settlement here: http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/former-gay-and-lesbian-service-members-subject-discriminatory-policy-receive-full

Read the settlement agreement here: http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/collins-v-united-states-settlement-agreement

 

By David McKean, OutServe-SLDN Legal Director | Comment (0)

The Week in Review: December 3-7, 2012

Army veteran, OutServe-SLDN board member weds at West Point Cadet Chapel. Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Board member Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton last Saturday married her long-time partner, Penelope Dara Gnesin, at the Cadet Chapel at West Point. The two became the first to wed in the historic cathedral and only the second same-sex couple to marry on the hallowed grounds of West Point since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) and the legalization of same-sex marriage in the State of New York. To read more, click here.  

OutServe-SLDN praises Senate for passage of responsible defense authorization bill. Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson praised U.S. Senate leaders this week for passage of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that does not include harmful language adopted by the House of Representatives last spring. The House-passed bill would limit the use of Department of Defense facilities, negatively impact military chaplains, and undermine successful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal implementation. To read more, click here

Department of Defense General Counsel, DADT repeal ally, resigns. Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson released a statement this week following the announcement of the resignation of Jeh Johnson as General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense. Read her statement here.

Discharged service members among first to marry in Wasington State. A number of those who will be among the first to enter into same-sex marriages in Washington State are high-profile gay service members discharged for their sexual orientation - including Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer - who say the legalization of same-sex marriage represents the next step forward for LGBT rights. For more on this story, click here

OS-SLDN champagne brunch this weekend in Washington, DC. This Sunday, OutServe-SLDN will host a fundraiser in the nation’s capital to raise resources and support for its ongoing mission to achieve full LGBT equality in America’s military. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here

Have a story or event you want included in the Week in Review? Send it to Zeke Stokes at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for consideration.

 

By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)

Discharged service members among first to marry in Washington

By Chris Johnson

A number of those who will be among the first to enter into same-sex marriages in Washington State are high-profile gay service members discharged for their sexual orientation who say the legalization of same-sex marriage represents the next step forward for LGBT rights.

In Washington, where voters legalized marriage equality on Election Day by a 54 percent majority via a measure known as Referendum 74, same-sex couples were set to be able to obtain marriage licenses on Thursday. The three-day waiting period in the state means gay couples that obtain licenses on that day will be able to legally marry beginning Sunday.

Washington is the first of three states — which includes Maine and Maryland — where voters legalized same-sex marriage at the ballot on Election Day to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses and legally wed.

To read the entire story click here.

 

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Jeh Johnson: A hero of DADT repeal resigns

by Jonathan Capehart

One of the many heroes in the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” (DADT) has resigned. Jeh Johnson, the general counsel at the department of defense, will return to the private sector at the end of the month.

Johnson is one of those impressive people for whom public service is a form of thrill-seeking. His current stint at the Pentagon is his third tour away from private law practice in New York City. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in New York (1988 to 1991) and he was the general counsel of the Air Force (1998 to 2000).

To read the entire story click here.

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