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Military Prepares for 'DADT' Coming Out Day

the military publication Stars and Stripes today talks about what will happen with closeted servicemembers once the ban is lifted at the end of September, and interviews a few of them anonymously about whether they will some out or not:

Outserve When the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law is repealed next month, gay troops will be able to serve openly without fear of dismissal for the first time in U.S. military history.

But whether most will come out or keep their personal lives secret remains unclear. Gay troops’ careers will no longer be threatened by law, but many worry that the macho culture of the military might not be fully ready for those revelations.

And when that day comes, the troops will have something to read:

OutServe Magazine will hit store shelves at Army and Air Force bases on Sept. 20, the day the Pentagon plans to formally end enforcement of the “don’t ask, don'tI tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly.

The publication is published by OutServe, a group of secretly gay active duty service members that says it has hundreds of members currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The magazine, which began publishing in the spring, is currently available in limited supply at some public meeting areas and military physicians offices, the group said.


Watch: The Story of US Army Cpl Andrew Wilfahrt, a Gay Soldier Who Died in Combat Last Month in Afghanistan

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OutServe, the underground network of actively serving LGBT service members, and the Courage Campaign share with us a video from the parents of US Army Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a gay soldier killed in combat last month in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

3_wilfahrt Wilfahrt was forced to serve in the closet, as all service members still must. OutServe reports that in addition to Corporal Wilfahrt, at least three LGBT soldiers have died in combat since 'Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s' conditional repeal was signed into law on December 22, 2010.

Says Corporal Wilfahrt’s mother Lori: "The stories we’ve heard from people in his unit indicate that he kept some people calm when things got rough. People in his unit knew he was gay…and they didn’t care."

Said Jonathan Hopkins, OutServe spokesperson and gay combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: 

"Corporal Wilfahrt epitomized the courage, dedication and selflessness that gay and straight troops alike have shown in battle since our nation’s founding. Ultimately Corporal Wilfahrt’s story is not about differences or politics, but the values that unite all who wear the proud uniform of our nation—loyalty to each other, love of country, and the willingness to give their lives in its defense."

To the Wilfahrts, thank you for your story, and condolences on your loss.

The repeal of 'DADT' has yet to be certified.

Watch his story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Wilfahrt

Continue reading "Watch: The Story of US Army Cpl Andrew Wilfahrt, a Gay Soldier Who Died in Combat Last Month in Afghanistan" »


Print Magazine Launched for Active-Duty LGBT Service Members

Outserve

OutServe, the underground network of over 2,900 LGBT military personnel, today announced an eponymous publication which will serve as a resource for the thousands of active-duty LGBT service members in the U.S. military.

Said OutServe’s co-director, an active-duty officer who goes by the pseudonym JD Smith: 

"Our first objective with the magazine is to let all the gay, lesbian, bi, and trans members currently serving know that they are not alone. And we also want to communicate to all troops that there are capable gay military members serving honorably, and that accepting that and moving on will make our military stronger. Our goal is to have our next version available in print, at some of the larger military bases. Visibility is key. We are not about highlighting our differences, but demonstrating how LGBT troops are proud soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coasties, and Marines just like everyone else."

According to the group, "The magazine contains features about DADT repeal implementation and OutServe chapters, as well as other information of interest to currently-serving LGBT military members."

The current issue also contains an article about the group's meeting with a Pentagon Repeal Implementation Team.

Write Jonathan Hopkins and Sue Fulton:

Actual date of certification is yet to be determined (DADT is technically repealed 60 days after certification). The Secretary and political leaders still have to decide whether certification will be anticipatory (certify on June 15th of this year if they are confident all training will be done by August 15th) or if certification will be the culminating event (certify on or after August 15th). That decision is being based not only on training completion, but also on the subjective feedback that unit commanders are providing in their reports on their unit’s sense of preparedness. The RIT therefore could not give an expected repeal date because the decision simply has not been made yet. What is important right now are the commander’s assessments of their unit’s progress and preparedness for repeal.

You can read the first issue online HERE (PDF). The next issue will be in print.


Watch: Rachel Maddow Interviews JD Smith of Outserve, the Underground Network of Active Gay Service Members

Maddow

Rachel Maddow last night interviewed JD Smith, the co-director of Outserve, the underground group of actively-serving gay and lesbian service members about why the group was formed, its purpose, and the 'DADT' Pentagon report.

She also summed up the day's activities in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

TUNE IN to TOWLEROAD at 9AM for PART 2 of the SENATE HEARINGS - LIVE 

Continue reading "Watch: Rachel Maddow Interviews JD Smith of Outserve, the Underground Network of Active Gay Service Members" »


Gay Military Group 'Outserve' Comes Out, Sort of...

Outserve, an underground network of actively serving LGBT members of the U.S. military, today made public contact information and international locations of its 27 chapters.

Outserve According to the group, "OutServe currently has more than 1,200 members worldwide. The organization's largest regional chapters are those in Southern California and Germany, with 110 and 83 members, respectively. OutServe's Afghanistan/Iraq chapter has 50 members. The organization¹s average chapter size is 45 members."

The group's international chapters include Afghanistan/Iraq, Cuba, Diego Garcia, Germany, Guam, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, and the United Kingdom.

It also has 18 chapters within the U.S. including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, New England, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern California, Oklahoma, Service Academies, Southern California, Texas, Virginia, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.

Outserve Said JD Smith, OutServe co-director: "Making OutServe chapters available in these hopefully last critical weeks of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" debate will allow the media access to speak confidentially with gay and lesbian service members and regional OutServe leadership, who will be able to talk about their hopes and plans for a post-DADT military, one where they can serve openly and with integrity. Post-repeal, we anticipate these chapters will serve as points of contact for military personnel who wish to reach out to actively serving gay and lesbian military members as a resource and as colleagues.

Outserve, you may recall, received condemnation from SLDN, Servicemembers United, HRC and the Center for American Progress after it released a joint statement with The Palm Center and Knights Out, suggesting it would support passage of a Defense Authorization bill stripped of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal provision.

Smith later denied that's what the groups were saying:

“Let us be clear on where we stand as we begin this lame duck session. Nowhere do we call for repeal to be stripped from the NDAA. No matter what, we will be soldiers in this fight and the real issue is this: while people like Senator McCain continue to demonize us as unpatriotic and disloyal soldiers, we will stand strong with our fellow military members. Unlike Senator McCain, we refuse to abandon our comrades at a time when this country is dealing with multiple military conflicts. Senator McCain should be the target of the blame for the continued stalling and distractions during this process, and is responsible, ultimately, for perpetuating discrimination against gay and lesbian service members. In the past few years on active duty, my greatest support has come from straight active duty service members. They have stood by me when leadership tried to investigate me under DADT and risked their careers in order to protect me. They have been the rock of my support over the years. As a gay man and a proud member of the military, I have two dogs in this fight. It is incredibly painful to see how politicians – especially Senator McCain – will play politics with the lives of patriotic Americans, gay and straight.”


DADT Update: Lady Gaga, SLDN, Outserve Appeal to Maine Senators

Maine_gaga

Last night I posted about the Maine rally Lady Gaga is attending today for DADT repeal.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has seen a huge increase to visitors of its website since Lady Gaga began her "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" advocacy at the VMAs, Kerry Eleveld reports:

SLDN has seen its website numbers skyrocket since Lady Gaga took soldiers discharged under the discriminatory policy as escorts to the Video Music Awards last Sunday.

During the week before the VMAs (September 5–11), for instance, SLDN.org had 6,904 visitors with 15,101 page views, according to Thomas. But in the week following her VMA appearance (September 12–18), the site had 211,940 visitors with 360,145 page views. Overall, it represented a 91.93% in new visitors to the site.

[SLDN's Trevor] Thomas said Lady Gaga made the 'last-minute decision”' to attend Monday’s rally on Saturday evening after speaking with SLDN’s staff and executive director Aubrey Sarvis. The move required some logistical rejiggering since she is currently touring to promote her newly released album, The Remix. The pop star, known for her outlandish and ever-changing costuming, was in North Carolina where she performed in Charlotte and had a show Sunday evening in Raleigh. 'This is a big commitment,' Thomas said of the impromptu detour to Maine. 'She is on tour and her team has been enormously supportive throughout this process and very responsive.'"

If you have not called your Senator now is the time to do so.

In related news, Outserve released an open letter to Senators Snowe and Collins:

Outserve We are the active duty gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard who are currently serving. We are writing you today to ask for your help.

Your vote on Tuesday will determine whether or not the new generation of military personnel will continue to be subjugated to the past generation’s law of discrimination and hate. Months ago, the Armed Services Committee chose to stand up for what is right and vote the National Defense Authorization Act out of committee and now you have a chance to allow this vote to proceed

While people play politics with our lives, we will be the ones that directly suffer. Over the past 17 years under the policy the military has witnessed the dismissal of over 14,000 troops qualified to serve their country. The military continues to dismiss the most critical soldiers that is directly putting our lives at risk on the battlefield. Military members have killed themselves over this policy. Failure to vote for cloture next Tuesday makes future lives, careers and crimes on your hands.

On Tuesday there will be thousands of us in the military watching your vote, gay and straight. This vote is not about anything else except the fact there are people that want to continue to keep soldiers subject to a law they no longer wish to be held to. We are the gay and lesbian soldiers now currently serving and we know exactly how our brothers and sisters and arms will treat us. We ask you to please do the right thing and stand with us currently serving and vote for cloture.

Signed,

The OutServe Network

The Maine rally is set to kick off at 4 pm today in Portland.


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