This weekend, OutServe-SLDN held its National Dinner, the first since the two LGBT military organizations joined in Summer 2012. Executive Director Allyson Robinson delivered the first-ever “State of LGBT Military Service Address,” in which she highlighted the many recent victories for LGBT servicemembers, but pointed out that there is still much to fight for:
Today, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a memory — and a lesson about what we can achieve when we work together. Now, that historic victory is just that — history. But the fight for full LGBT equality in our armed forces is far from over. In fact, it’s just getting started.
LGBT troops still lack even the most basic nondiscrimination protections — protections that have been the standard with other American employers for years. The Defense of Marriage Act still denies LGBT military families the most important support services — things like health insurance and survivor benefits. Qualified Americans who are transgender and who want to serve in uniform are still forbidden from doing so by medical regulations that have become ridiculously obsolete. And despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” thousands of our troops are still in the closet, afraid of what coming out might mean for their careers, their families.
Indeed, there is still important progress to be made. There is little more that can be done until the laws are changed so that servicemembers can achieve all the same benefits and protections as other members of the military enjoy. However, in the wake of DADT’s repeal, there is incredible new power in the ability for LGBT soldiers to be out and advocate for themselves — a power that OutServe-SLDN is only just beginning to tap into. The challenges ahead may be great, but the resources to face them are more robust than ever.