A New Era. A New Kind of Organization.
This issue of OutServe Magazine comes at an exciting time for our organization. Indeed, we are seeing incredible and unprecedented growth in OutServe-SLDN and in our fight for an inclusive, respectful military that honors the service and sacrifice of all qualified Americans who serve—or wish to serve—in our armed forces.
Very soon America will know how the Supreme Court has chosen to handle the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and we at OutServe-SLDN are preparing for all scenarios. Meanwhile, we are doing all we can to secure the freedom to serve for our transgender brothers and sisters, and recent months have brought us renewed opportunities to raise awareness among policy makers in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere about the unjust policies and regulations that bar their service.
One thing I know is certain. Soon—very soon—we will accomplish our formal policy goals. But as incredible an accomplishment as that will be, it is only the beginning of our work. Changing laws, regulations, and policies is the easy part. Changing culture is something entirely different and actually takes a lot more time and considerably more work.
That’s why our board of directors met in Washington, D.C. in early May to chart a new course for our future as an organization. The result is a new mission statement and set of strategic aims that I am excited to share with you now:
OutServe-SLDN empowers, supports, and defends the Department of Defense and military service LGBT community, LGBT veterans, and their families, while working to strengthen our military’s culture of inclusion.
We accomplish this mission through the following strategic priorities:
- Providing LGBT service members with unique opportunities for professional development, support, networking, and camaraderie at the local, regional, and national level;
- Building local, regional, and national networks of support for LGBT military families;
- Mobilizing and organizing LGBT service members, Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, veterans, their families, and their allies to make unique contributions to the quality of life of our military communities;
- Providing support to LGBT service members, DoD civilians, veterans, and their families facing harassment or discrimination;
- Educating and informing the public on matters related to the service and sacrifice of LGBT military personnel, DoD civilians, veterans, and their families and on the value of a military culture of inclusion;
- Equipping DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to create inclusive and respectful command climates and the institutional culture of LGBT inclusion to undergird them;
- Advocating within DoD and DVA for regulatory changes to remove barriers to equal opportunity and equal support;
- Advocating before Congress and the White House for measures that support LGBT service members, veterans, and families, while defending against those that would limit our gains.
One of changes we are making in the near term is to open membership in OutServe-SLDN to supporters beyond those who are actively serving members of the military. Building a culture of inclusion and respect for LGBT people in DoD and DVA is an incredibly ambitious goal, and even our best effort will not be enough if we are working alone. To accomplish the mission, we must include the broad community of those who have served to defend our nation—veterans, retirees, allies of all sexual orientations and gender identities—and, indeed, all who believe our military ought to be leading the country in inclusion rather than lagging behind it. If you are ready to pitch in and lend your support to our mission and America’s LGBT military community, then we have a place for you.
No matter who you are…you belong here.