The American Bar Association held its annual meeting in Chicago this past weekend, and LGBT military service was on the agenda. The Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) hosted a panel entitled “LGBT Service Members and the Armed Forces One Year After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The discussion was ably moderated by Vermont Law School Professor Jackie Gardina, and I was privileged to sit on the panel with former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), SLDN client Major Shannon McLaughlin, and the Family Equality Council’s Denise Brogan-Kator.
The panel was designed to take a look back at how DADT repeal came to pass, but also take stock of the remaining issues left to resolve before LGBT service members have true military equality. Rep. Murphy provided the insightful look back, recounting the nuts and bolts maneuvering that allowed for final passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Major McLaughlin provided an on-the-ground assessment of repeal’s implementation, while we both addressed what remains to be done for gay and lesbian service members to serve equally, including marriage recognition and benefits parity and access to the Military Equal Opportunity program. Ms. Brogan-Kator, a former Navy submariner, talked about the remaining bar on transgender service and possible paths forward.
Overall it was a wonderful panel and led to a fruitful discussion with questions from the audience. As we continue to advocate for full equality for LGBT service members, panels and discussions like this continue to be one of the most productive places to connect with the public, formulate ideas and get feedback. Thank you to the SOGI and the ABA for making it possible.
08-06-12 By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director |