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OutServe to provide voice to LGBT troops



A new organization opposed to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” officially launched on Monday that aims to give new voice to LGBT service members currently serving in the U.S. military.

The group, OutServe, formerly known as Citizens for Repeal, is crediting itself with being the first-ever organization for active duty gay, lesbian and bisexual troops that is speaking openly with Pentagon officials as well as public audiences.

OutServe’s co-director, a military officer who’s referring to himself publicly by the alias of J.D. Smith to avoid being outed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said his group is focused on giving support to active duty gay and lesbian service members through social networking.

“For example, we had someone moved from Virginia to Colorado recently,” Smith said. “Through the network, we were able to get them in touch with new people and new friends in Colorado.”

Smith said plans for the future include helping LGBT troops find counseling services and becoming “a professional group of LGBT military members.”

As part of its launch, the group issued a statement on Monday outlining its mission and the importance of hearing from openly LGBT service members in the U.S. military.

“We are active duty and veteran gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard who are currently serving and who have served — some in silence, some with the open support of our comrades — in defense of our nation,” the statement begins. “We include service men and women who graduated at the top of our classes at the service academies and enlisted at recruitment centers around the country. Some of our members have lost their lives in service to their country.”

The group started in October 2009 as an underground network with a Facebook page. According to a statement from the organization, OutServe now has about 450 members, including around two dozen service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Smith said efforts started with collecting stories from LGBT active duty service members and the group’s activities evolved. Starting in March, OutServe embarked on a tour of schools throughout the country to speak out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

A speech at the State University of New York at Oswego, according to Smith, prompted such fervor against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on campus that Army Secretary John McHugh had to cancel a subsequent appearance at the college out of fear of protests.

“We weren’t the ones doing the protest, but the students ended up doing it there — they were fired up about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Smith said.

As the Pentagon working group develops its plan for implementing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Smith said the organizations plans to make sure LGBT service members have a voice.

“One of the things that we see a lot coming from the Pentagon is they’re saying ‘gay advocates’ are saying this, or certain things are happening, and like to use the word ‘advocates,'” Smith said. “As we created a group that is just active duty, it’s no longer advocates are saying this it’s now their own people.”

Smith said OutServe had been communicating with the Pentagon working group in limited fashion by giving them information “that is beneficial to help them with repeal.”

Such information, Smith said, includes anecdotes on LGBT troops serving with other service members and feedback on the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” survey.

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  1. Duane S.

    July 27, 2010 at 6:51 am

    While I applaud the group for their efforts, it seems like overkill. We already have Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United and others working towards repeal. Do we need another group? Wouldn’t time and energy be better spent in bulking up the existing groups?

  2. Jay B.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    @Duane – No other group is exclusively gay and active duty. There’s room for more viewpoints.

  3. chief

    August 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

    this is the largest group of active duty members serving under DADT. SU and SLDN have different goals than OutServe.
    Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

    SLDN is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and related forms of intolerance.
    But, OutServe is OutServe is the only underground network of actively serving LGBT military members. (and their supporters!)
    We are in the military now, and we need friends who know us, know our problems, can help us…how do you find friends if you can’t ask or tell anyone about a large part of your life? Outserve is a facilitator for that. As well as giving us a voice on the issue of implementing the repeal. No other organization has approached the DoD to offer the collective knowledge and assistance of gay service members.

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Out for America; nearly 1,000 elected LGBTQ+ officials but more needed

Lack of representation has consequences, as LGBTQ elected officials are best positioned to defend against anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks



Victory Institute Out for America report cover Image of Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride (D First District) being sworn in to office

WASHINGTON – In its annual report the Washington D.C. based LGBTQ Victory Institute noted that there had been an increase of 17 percent in the past year of LGBTQ Americans serving as elected officials. According to the data in the Out for America 2021 report released this past week, there are 986 known out LGBTQ elected officials in the United States.

The Victory Institute reported that total included two U.S. senators, nine U.S. representatives, two governors, 189 state legislators, 56 mayors and six statewide executives. While this is considered a large increase, LGBTQ people hold just 0.19 percent of elected positions in the United States, despite making up at least 5.6 percent of the U.S. adult population.

Americans must elect 28,116 more LGBTQ people to public office for LGBTQ people to achieve equitable representation (serving in 5.6 percent of elected positions) the report went on to note.


The report found that in the past year (between June 2020 and June 2021):

  • LGBTQ elected officials of color increased by 51 percent, with Black LGBTQ elected officials growing at the fastest pace (a 75 percent increase);
  • Trans women elected officials increased by 71 percent (from 21 to 36), yet trans men saw no increase (with just five serving nationwide);
  • Queer-identified elected officials increased by 83 percent, faster than all other sexual orientations; and
  • LGBQ cisgender women state legislators surpassed the number of GBQ cisgender men state legislators for the first time.

The report also found that:

  • LGBTQ elected officials are significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than the overall elected official population, but are less diverse than the U.S. population;
  • Mississippi is the only state in the nation with zero known out LGBTQ elected officials serving;
  • 23 states have transgender elected officials serving and 29 states have non-cisgender elected officials;
  • LGBTQ people are equitably represented among mayors of top 100 cities for the first time (with six), but are underrepresented among mayors overall and in all other public positions; and that
  • 84 percent of LGBTQ elected officials are Democrats and just three percent are Republicans.

In an emailed statement, former Houston, Texas Mayor Annise Parker, who currently serves as the President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute reflected, “While LGBTQ elected officials are growing steadily in number, at this pace it will still take decades to come anywhere close to achieving equitable representation in government.” 

Parker went on to note, “This lack of representation has enormous consequences, because LGBTQ elected officials are best positioned to defend against anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks and to change the hearts and minds of colleagues in supporting inclusive policies. A moonshot effort to increase our numbers is essential to advancing equality at every level of government – and a large part of that is showing LGBTQ people that running for office is our best bet to achieve lasting social change.”

In addition to changes in representation over the last year, the report also looks at trends since the first Out for America report was released in November 2017. In that time, LGBTQ elected officials increased by 121 percent (from 448 to 986) overall, and LGBTQ elected officials of color increased by 201 percent (from 92 to 277). 

Since November 2017, there is a 296 percent increase in Black LGBTQ elected officials (from 23 to 91), 135 percent increase in Latinx LGBTQ elected officials (from 51 to 120) and a 117 percent increase in Asian American and Pacific Islander elected officials (from 12 to 26). Trans women increased by 800 percent (from four to 36) and bisexual elected officials by 787 percent (from eight to 71).

“LGBTQ elected officials are significantly more diverse than the overall elected official population – so their impact extends beyond LGBTQ equality alone,” said Ruben Gonzales, Executive Director of LGBTQ Victory Institute. “LGBTQ elected officials are on the frontlines in legislative efforts to end police brutality, defend voting rights and secure inclusive healthcare reform. LGBTQ people are represented in every community in America and that diversity allows for more thoughtful policy changes when we are in office.”

The Out for America report is an annual analysis of LGBTQ elected representation in government based on Victory Institute’s LGBTQ elected officials database – the largest and most comprehensive listing available. The interactive Out for America map, updated daily, displays all known LGBTQ elected officials and is available at

Read the full Out for America 2021 report at

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Biden to nominate LGBTQ synagogue rabbi to religious freedom commission

Sharon Kleinbaum joined NYC’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1992



Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

President Biden on Friday announced he plans to nominate the chief rabbi of an LGBTQ synagogue in New York City to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1992.

“She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis when the synagogue was in desperate need of pastoral care and spiritual leadership,” reads a bio that announced Biden’s intention to nominate Kleinbaum to the commission. “She guided the congregation through a period of loss and change, while addressing social issues and building a strong and deeply spiritual community. Under her leadership as senior rabbi, CBST has become a powerful voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.”

Kleinbaum is married to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The commission seeks to defend religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world. The president and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress nominate members.

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Bill would require universities to apply for Title IX religious exemption waiver

Measure seeks to highlight anti-LGBTQ higher education institutions



Four members of Congress on Thursday introduced a bill that would require federally-funded universities to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education before they can receive a religious exemption from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

A press release that U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) issued notes the Exposing Discrimination in Higher Education Act would also require “the Department of Education and the exempted higher education institutions to prominently display the waiver on their websites in order to inform students of their beliefs before arriving on campus.”

The members of Congress note “several higher education institutions across the U.S.” beginning in 2013 “applied for religious exemptions with the Department of Education that would allow them to discriminate against LGBTQ students on campus.” The Department of Education during the previous White House sought to revoke the waiver application requirement.

“These exemptions allow students to be removed from extracurricular organizations, leadership posts, sports teams, and even be expelled simply for being members of the LGBTQ community,” reads the press release.

The previous White House rescinded guidance to public schools that said Title IX requires them to allow transgender students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. The Biden administration last month said Title IX bans discrimination against LGBTQ students.

“Every student deserves to attend a college where their entire identity is accepted and celebrated,” said Clark. “Without transparency about a school’s beliefs, students may arrive on campus only to learn that their school has policies in place that infringe on their civil rights. I’m proud to introduce the Exposing Discrimination in Higher Education Act to ensure that students can apply to college with all the information necessary to set them up for success.”

Davids added “every student deserves an educational experience free from discrimination and harassment.”

“At the moment, we are letting down our LGBTQ+ community on college campuses, as more taxpayer-funded universities quietly skirt around civil rights law,” said the Kansas Democrat. “By reinstating the waiver requirement for universities who seek exemption from anti-discrimination protections, we are not only protecting LGBTQ+ students from unfair treatment, but we are reminding them that their experience is visible and valuable.”

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