Monday, July 26, 2010

Active Duty Gay Troops Helping to Prepare Pentagon for Life After DADT

Pentagon Leaders Advised to Expect “Business as Usual” After Repeal

SANTA BARBARA, CA – July 26, 2010 -- Gay and lesbian service members are
organizing themselves in order to help the Pentagon prepare for life after
“don’t ask, don’t tell.” This week, they are publicly launching OutServe
(formerly known as Citizens for Repeal), the first-ever organization of
actively serving gay troops and they have started speaking openly with
Pentagon officials as well as public audiences. For information about the
group go to

According to the group’s Co-Director, JD Smith, “Active duty and reserve gay
and lesbian troops have been critical to the nation's defense, but almost
completely absent from the conversation. We’re fixing that.” Smith, who goes
by his initials in the interest of privacy and safety, is an officer. Smith
says that OutServe has expanded by word of mouth and Facebook since its
formation as an underground network in October 2009 and now consists of
approximately 450 gay and lesbian service members, including approximately
two dozen deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Growth has been swift, and an
average of 15 new members are joining each week. The group verifies each new
applicant against a database of U.S. troops to ensure that only active duty
individuals join.

In response to concerns that after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,”
gay troops will parade their sexual orientation or engage in other
inappropriate conduct, the group is organizing its public launch this week
around the release of a statement outlining its expectation of a smooth
transition. “Following the lifting of the ban, it will be business as
usual,” according to the group’s Overseas Director, an enlisted service
member deployed with an artillery unit in Baghdad. “We defend the nation now
and we will keep defending it after repeal. We are issuing the statement to
explain that to people.”

Several organizations representing gay and lesbian graduates and affiliates
of the Service Academies are planning to co-sign the statement along with
OutServe, which is the principal author.

Although group members remain cautious about revealing their identities
while “don’t ask, don’t tell” is still law, they are beginning to speak more
openly in anticipation of the end of the ban. They have started to deliver
public lectures on university campuses, and are engaged in ongoing dialogue
with military researchers. “We have made two points to Pentagon officials,”
says Ty Walrod, the group’s Co-Director and civilian spokesperson. “First,
we trust the Commander in Chief to deliver on his pledge to fully implement
non-discrimination. Second, while we believe that the Pentagon’s research
efforts are sincere and we are able and willing to help in any way, we have
concerns about the confidentiality of its survey and the authenticity of
some of the respondents.” Walrod, the only non- military member of the
group, is based in San Francisco.

In Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands and other foreign countries where
militaries have lifted gay bans, organizations representing gay and lesbian
troops serve as a bridge between service members and defense ministries.
OutServe plans to play a similar role after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t
tell.” Smith says that the organization already has provided information,
resources and social support to gay troops, and will continue to do so
following repeal. In addition, the group will continue to offer advice to
Pentagon officials about issues relevant to the community.

The Baghdad-based Overseas Director added that, "We are here to fight and
win wars, serve with integrity and honesty and protect the people fighting
next to us. We are proud to sacrifice for the nation we love, but we have a
lot of educational work to do.”

(CONTACT: Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123,

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