Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SLDN and OutServe Combine Forces in Effort to Improve Lives of LGBT Service Members

Just yesterday, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe announced their plan to merge the two organizations by October 2012. The organizations, both of which advocate for LGBT service members in the U.S. military, will form a single organization with a new name and newly configured board of directors in order to streamline their equality efforts.

SLDN is a non-profit legal services and policy organization that advocates for LGBT military equality. OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT military personnel, began as an underground network of LGBT service members connected through Facebook. The two organizations have worked closely together, and both were essential in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In fact, OutServe hosted the first-ever conference of active duty LGBT service members shortly after the repeal of the controversial policy.

SLDN Board of Directors Co-Chairman Mike Magee discussed his organization’s collaboration with OutServe in a news release that announced the merger: “Since repeal [of DADT], we’ve worked even more closely together and in doing so, it has become more and more clear that our shared mission—representing actively serving military and veterans, as well as fighting to achieve full LGBT equality in the military—is better accomplished by uniting the two organizations and working together as one on behalf of the brave men and women of our armed forces.”

This comes down to mission first, just as it always is in the military.  Both of these organizations recognize that they are stronger and more effective together. It is a great day for both organizations and for the LGBT service members and veterans around the world, who need a strong, unified voice speaking for them,agreed Josh Seefried, Co-Founder and Co-Director of OutServe.

This groundbreaking merger sets an interesting precedent for how other organizations may join forces in the future as our movement continues to evolve. We look forward to this unity and the progress it will bring for our men and women in uniform. Equality in the military is a necessity if we are to achieve full equality for LGBT people and their families.

Take Action: SLDN’s and OutServe’s work now center around winning broader rights and benefits for same-sex couples of the military. On June 27th, Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act. This bill, HR 6046, would provide full military and veteran benefits to married same-sex couples by redefining “spouse” in terms of military benefits in such a way that would adhere to the state law where the couple got married. HR 6046 would end discrimination and promote equality for LGBT service members and their families. It is essential that you click here to tell your members of Congress that you support this legislation and the progress it will mean for the American military. The brave LGBT service members of the U.S. military risk their lives every day to fight for our country. Let’s show them how much we appreciate their efforts and speak out on their behalf.