Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Dixon Steps Down

As many of you have no doubt already read, SLDN's long-time executive director, C. Dixon Osburn, is stepping down from his post at the organization. Dixon co-founded SLDN in 1993 with former Army Captain Michelle Benecke. Since then, through their leadership and dedication, SLDN has become a first-class advocacy organization, fighting on behalf of our men and women in uniform. You can read the release announcing Dixon's depature here. And you can leave messages for him here in our comments section, or over at Pam's House Blend. I know he has been moved by the numerous well-wishes that have already poured in. Under Dixon Osburn’s leadership, SLDN has: • Provided legal assistance to 8,000 service members harmed by the gay ban; • Filed a constitutional challenge, Cook v. Gates, to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;’ • Supported introduction of legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the last two sessions of Congress; • Obtained more than 36 changes to military policy and practice that benefit LGBT service members, including Executive Orders on hate crime sentence enhancement and protections in issuance of security clearances; • Obtained the first ever Department of Defense regulations prohibiting anti-gay harassment; • Cultivated two retired generals and one admiral to come out publicly for the first time in December 2003 – People Magazine named them as among their Most Influential Americans of 2003; • Cultivated seven Army Colonels and Navy Captains to come out as gay in 2007 in The Advocate; • Cultivated prominent military leaders to speak out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili; the Army’s first female Lieutenant General, LTG Claudia Kennedy; and a Navy lawyer partially responsible for helping the Navy craft the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Admiral John Hutson; • Secured an op-ed by Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) calling for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” • Mobilized a mass media condemnation of remarks by current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace defending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because “gays are immoral;” • Obtained a decision in Marcum v. USA before the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces that held the Lawrence decision applied to the military and is the best application of Lawrence to date; in the military, the decision has led the Army and Navy to overturn various sodomy convictions; • Supported a law in 2004 that requires the Pentagon to provide Congress with data regarding all discharges from the military, including reason for discharge, the base where the discharge took place and demographic data about those discharged; • Co-commissioned a 2004 Urban Institute study finding there are 65,000 LGB service members on active duty, in the reservations and National Guard and 1 million gay veterans in the U.S.; the same researcher calculated at SLDN’s request that there are approximately 41,000 gay men who might join the armed forces if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were repealed; • Ended the practice of gay witch hunts in the armed forces; and • Assisted in the investigation and publicity surrounding the hate crime murder of PFC Barry Winchell, after attempts by the Army to cover it up. All of us at SLDN salute Dixon for his unwavering commitment to our mission, and wish him all the best in his new endeavors. And we look forward to working with Kathleen DeBold, our new interim executive director, to continue SLDN's important work to topple "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." - Steve Ralls

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