LGBT active-duty troops get organized
An organization of active-duty LGBT servicemembers went public this week. The group “OutServe” has been active online under the name “Citizens for Repeal” – but launched as an official organization on Monday. Founder JD Smith says LGBT active-duty members of the military currently don’t have a voice in the conversations regarding the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on openly gay service. Smith is using an alias because he could be discharged under that very policy.
Smith: “One of the things that we keep hearing from the Pentagon is ‘the gay advocates just want this’ or ‘this special interest group just wants this.’ No longer can they say that. They have to directly deal with troops right now, and that’s something that’s going to change this whole game.”
Smith says OutServe will have TWO primary functions – one, to give active-duty gay troops a voice. The other, is to give them a support network.
Smith: “For example, we recently had someone who moved from one state to another, and we were able to get them in contact with new friends in the area – new military members in the area – to actually create a new kind-of social support across the military.”
Smith says his group will focus on things like helping LGBT troops find counseling services, or putting them in touch with other troops in similar circumstances. Smith says once the battle over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is over, OutServe will become more of a network for gay troops – who will no longer have to hide who they are.