Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Collateral Damage: How the Defense of Marriage Act Harms the Troops and Undermines the U.S. Military. Following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent announcement that the Department of Defense would extend some benefits to same-sex couples, advocates quickly turned to another stumbling block—the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on its constitutionality this summer. This week, the Center for American Progress and OutServe-SLDN released a report, “Collateral Damage: How the Defense of Marriage Act Harms the Troops and Undermines the U.S. Military,” which details exactly how DOMA negatively affects gay service members and their families. Read the report and watch the video here.
Retiring Army Colonel Tapped to Become First OutServe-SLDN Chapter Director. Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson announced this week the appointment of Colonel Gary D. Espinas, currently a military professor of national security affairs in Monterey, California, as the first Director of Chapter and Member Services at OutServe-SLDN. Espinas will begin the newly created full-time position on April 30 following his military retirement. Read the news release here.
Bishop Gene Robinson Joins Lineup for March 9 National Dinner. Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson has joined the lineup of special guests for the March 9 OutServe-SLDN National Dinner in Washington, DC. Other special guests scheduled to appear include former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA); reality television stars and winners of CBS’s The Amazing Race, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge (The Fabulous Beekman Boys); Washington Post opinion writer and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart; and the first same-sex couple to wed in the West Point Cadet Chapel, Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnesin. To purchase tickets, click here.
02-22-13 By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
Remembering Charlie Morgan. OutServe-SLDN mourns the loss of one of our own this week, CW2 Charlie Morgan, who passed away following a nearly two-year fight with cancer punctuated by her own family's battle against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). To read OutServe-SLDN's statement on the passing of CW2 Morgan, click here. On Friday, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act in her honor. To learn more, click here.
Panetta Extends Benefits. Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson praised outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for his decision to extend to nearly the full extent permitted under current law the benefits available to gay and lesbian service members and their families. Though Panetta’s announcement did not include a number of important items that could have been granted - including on-base housing, burial rights at national cemeteries and some overseas travel for spouses, which remain under consideration - Robinson called the package “substantive” and acknowledged that the Pentagon has done almost as much as it can with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still on the books. To read the news release, click here.
Robinson Will Deliver "State of LGBT Miltary Service" Address at National Dinner. The 2013 OutServe-SLDN National Dinner will take place at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on Saturday, March 9, 2013. The organization’s Executive Director, Army veteran Allyson Robinson, will deliver her first “State of LGBT Military Service” address to set the stage for an evening expected to draw a thousand service members, veterans, families, and allies. To purchase tickets or become a table captain or sponsor, click here.
02-15-13 By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
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.
02-08-13 By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
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.
02-01-13 By Zeke Stokes, OutServe-SLDN Communications Director | Comment (0)
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
01-28-13 Comment (0)
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
01-25-13 Comment (0)
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.
01-16-13 Comment (0)
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.
01-10-13 Comment (0)
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
01-08-13 By David McKean, OutServe-SLDN Legal Director | Comment (0)
It seems this time of year that there's never enough time to get everything done, and with four children at home, my wife Danyelle and I always look forward to those days just after Christmas when things settle down just a bit. The anticipation of gift-giving is over, and we all can simply enjoy one another's company for a few days before the demands of the new year kick in.
But it's hard to rest when there is so much left to do.
Indeed, the fight is far from over. Though "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been relegated to the dustbin of history, our fight continues for military families who are still treated as second class citizens because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It continues for veterans who served our country honorably yet have not received the recognition and dignity their service is due. It continues for the more than 60,000 LGBT service members currently wearing our nation's uniform, who are not serving with legal protection from harassment and discrimination. And it continues for the brave transgender patriots who have served, who serve today, and who wish to serve in the future, yet are barred from doing so by outdated, discriminatory regulations.
We have much to be grateful for as we reflect on this year - but so much to do as we look ahead. You can make a difference. In fact, we cannot do it without you.
12-27-12 Comment (0)