Gay and Lesbian Service Members Come Out Today
September 20, 2011 by Charlie Joughin
Today marks the first day that men and women in our armed forces are able to publicly and proudly come out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. After decades of living in silence and worrying about being outed, these service members can show up to work and focus solely on their jobs, not their secret. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is now officially over.
In conjunction with OutServe and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), this morning several now-openly gay service members stopped by HRC to talk about what today means for them, and what the end of DADT means for their future with the military. Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried, who co-founded OutServe, an organization of over 4,000 actively-serving LGBT military personnel, spoke about his desire to get to work and do his job without any distractions.
And while today is a day of celebration, we should also remember that there is still work to be done for full equality in the armed services. We must do everything we can to ensure that transgender Americans are able to serve in the U.S. military. And until the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed, the military is prohibited from extending a number of benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members, such as health insurance benefits. Gay and lesbian service members and their loved ones also face limitations in areas like family housing, access to legal services, spousal relocation support and an adequate infrastructure to process possible incidents of discrimination and harassment against gay and lesbian service members. HRC is working hard with groups like OutServe and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to ensure these, and many other issues are addressed.
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