OutServe Hosts First-Ever Gays-in-the-Military Summit
An organization of active-duty gay and lesbian servicemembers is hosting a first-ever summit this weekend to outline what newly-out troops can expect in a post-‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ military.
OutServe is expecting about 200 LGBT and straight military personnel and their loved ones, veterans, and allies to participate in the various workshops and panel discussions slated for the historic event. Such topics will include marriage and spousal benefits; transgender service; military chaplaincy; and serving in leadership positions while openly gay. Military officials from allied nations that allow openly gay service will also be in attendance to discuss how THEY dealt with the issue.
OutServe co-director Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried says his group wants the historic conference to serve as a professional networking opportunity for gay and lesbian troops currently serving in the ranks. The Air Force officer–known by his alias J-D Smith PRIOR to repeal–says he also wants to create a visible LGBT community within the military.
SEEFRIED: If the conference participants walk away, one with people in the military that they can go to to seek advice from if they experience problems in their unit–I think that’s one successful aspect of the conference. But two, I think if people walk away wanting to continue to grow the organization, continue to grow in the profession that they’re in…I think will define success.
Seefried says OutServe has YET to receive word from its membership of 4500 of any negative responses to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and the subsequent ‘coming out’ of gay servicemembers.