March 25, 2010 | by Tyrone Ford
Safe haven for service members

About 13,000 service members have been abruptly fired from their jobs with the U.S. military as a result of 15 years of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2005, a bill (H.R. 1059, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act) was introduced to repeal the law and replace it with a policy of non-discrimination throughout the U.S. armed forces; it never made it out of committee.

Reintroduced in 2007, again the bill never made it out of committee. In 2009, the bill was reintroduced as H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 and is currently awaiting action by the Democratic leadership in Congress.

Starting out as a group of service members who were concerned about the small numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans being included in the debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Servicemembers United was born. The mission statement for this non-partisan and non-profit organization includes the following list of goals:

• To engage in education and advocacy on issues affecting gay and lesbian troops and veterans.

• To serve as an associational organization for the gay and lesbian military, veteran, and defense community.

• To represent the voice of Iraq/Afghanistan-era gay and lesbian troops and veterans.

• To advance and inform public debate on the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

Servicemembers United provides “substantive representation for gay and lesbian troops and veterans in the discourse and debate of the issues that affect their service and their lives.” As a non-profit organization, Servicemembers United requires donations and fundraising efforts to operate.

And that’s where Motley Bar, the upstairs of EFN Lounge, enters the picture. Motley Bar, 1318 9th St., N.W., has thrown its support behind this organization with a weekly fundraising event aptly named “Active Duty Thursday”.

Billed as a “safe haven” for those serving in the military, “Active Duty Thursdays” at Motley Bar offers an open, comfortable, familiar environment for military personnel, which eases the tension caused by frequenting an openly gay establishment.

When presented with the concept of a military night at Motley Bar, owner/manager Bill Gray quickly adopted the idea. The weekly event has been built on a word of mouth platform using such social networking tools as Facebook and Twitter with numbers of attendees increasing weekly.

With the help of Servicemembers United, Motley Bar uses this night to help bridge connections between those in attendance. When caught up in the storm of being discharged from the military there are many questions that require answers not so easily obtained; the connections made on any Active Duty Thursday could potentially provide answers.

From 9 p.m.-2 a.m. each Thursday, “Active Duty” includes a mix of veterans, military supporters and family members of active duty personnel along with a sizable number of active duty personnel. The bar is filled with various musical genres outside the normal dance beats you find elsewhere: rock, punk, ska, etc. Motley Bar also enables iPhone users to access the bar’s music library and control the playlist via Apple’s “Remote” application.

Check out Motley Bar’s Active Duty Thursdays Facebook page and Servicemembers United has a detailed site that provides much more information. For general inquiries about Servicemembers United, e-mail info@servicemembersunited.org.

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