Harassment/Discrimination

If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination due to your perceived or actual sexual orientation and would like to speak to an SLDN attorney regarding your options, please click here.

SLDN launched an online petition on July 26, 2011, urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Click here to sign the petition, conducted through Change.org, and go here to read SLDN’s news release.

In a February 9 letter, SLDN first urged the President to issue such an order, recommending that it go into effect on the date of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which officially took effect Tuesday, September 20, 2011. To read the letter, click here or read the following:

SLDN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO ISSUE EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

Washington, D.C. – In a letter sent to the White House February 9, 2011, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) urged President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN recommends that the executive order go into effect on the date of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which is 60 days after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.

“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a necessary first step, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. We call upon the President to issue an executive order so that sexual orientation and gender identity are not barriers to applying for a job or advancing in your career,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The explicit anti-discrimination provision that was part of legislation to repeal DADT was dropped from the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last December. An executive order is therefore needed to give service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Every service member deserves equal respect and a safe work environment. President Obama now has an opportunity to demonstrate the same leadership that President Truman did when he issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military, and issue an executive order that protects all patriots regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The President recognizes that it will take more than just repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to end discrimination against LGBT service members, and we couldn’t agree more,” Sarvis said.

SLDN renewed its call for the order July 22, when the President, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, issued formal certification to the Congress that the military is ready for repeal. The order would give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment. To see the press release click here or see below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 22, 2011

Finally, Certification Issued!
Sarvis: We celebrate this day, but the fight for LGB equality in America’s military marches forward

(Washington, D.C.) Service members today welcomed a key milestone in repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), as President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, formally issued their certification to the Armed Services committees of both houses of Congress, signifying that the military is ready for the transition. In 60 days, as prescribed in the law passed by Congress and signed by the President last December, repeal will be final.

“The final countdown to repeal begins today. Service members celebrate this historic announcement, and they are ready for this change. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead, and now the President, Secretary Panetta, and Chairman Mullen have certified to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Army Veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.

But Sarvis warned that the repeal of DADT is just one important milestone along the journey to achieving LGB equality in America’s military, and he renewed the organization’s call for the President to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such an order would give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.

“Every service member deserves equal respect in the work environment. Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was necessary, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. It’s critical that gay and lesbian service members have the same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to harassment and discrimination,” said Sarvis.

Sarvis said that SLDN will continue the fight for full equality for LGB troops who are serving today, as well as for those qualified Americans who wish to join.

“The work of advancing military equality marches forward after repeal. At SLDN, we will represent and defend those who may face harassment or discrimination as we oversee implementation; when necessary and timely, litigate in the courts to bring about full LGBT equality in America’s military; advocate for legally married service members to receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts; and assist veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork,” said Sarvis.

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SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination, click here to contact an attorney.