July 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
SLDN to Obama: ban LGBT military bias with Executive Order
SLDN protest

SLDN advocates rally in favor of 'Don't Ask' repeal late in 2010 prior to the vote. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network wants to make sure that the September 20th death of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” military policy, is the absolute end of gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination and harassment in the military.

The organization which played a key advocacy role in the effort to repeal the law that compelled the military to bar open service by gays and lesbians, has launched an online petition using the Change.org platform, calling on the President to sign an Executive Order barring all discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the armed forces. SLDN originally called for a similar order in February, claiming that an order would be needed before the repeal goes into effect fully to assure clarity for military personnel.

“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was an historic milestone, and we appreciate the President’s leadership and commitment in making that happen,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis wrote in a statement today. “But repeal alone is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. Today, we invite advocates for equality to join us in calling on the President to issue this order. Every service member deserves equal respect in the work environment, and it’s critical that gay and lesbian service members have the same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to discrimination and harassment,”

Though the end of the ‘Don’t Ask’ policy means that gay and lesbian military personnel can serve openly, some LGBT activists fear that anti-gay discrimination may still persist in the ranks, and enlisted men and women may not have any avenues to seek relief. In addition, the end of ‘Don’t Ask’ did not repeal the military’s separate ban on transgender service members, which will need to be dealt with separately. However, such an Executive Order called for in this petition won’t being the process of opening service to trans personnel.

“An executive order by the President prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would not permit open transgender military service nor circumvent existing medical regulations prohibiting transgender service,” SLDN Communications Director, Zeke Stokes, told the Washington Blade, Tuesday.

All personnel are cautioned to refrain from ‘coming out’ for the time being.

SLDN says that the order, however, would “give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.”

JD Smith, the Co-Director of the active duty LGBT group, OutServe supports this move for the message it will send.

“Its very important that we deal with equal opportunity from the get go as the standard. Obama is the Commander in Chief and he can send a clear message that discrimination won’t be tolerated,” Smith told the Blade. “In the training, they raised the issue that these troops are not going to receive equal opportunity, and that begs the question: why? A clear action by the President would send a clear signal that equality will be the rule in the ranks.”


  • With this pathetic petition, SLDN is only demonstrating the proverbial definition of “insanity”—repeating what has failed before. HOW does it make HONORABLE sense to simply resend the request Obama’s ignored since February while the concrete hardened on the Pentagon’s INTENTION to permit such discrimination they made obvious in the Pentagon Working Group Report released last November? And he will ignore this limp-wristed hanky waving no less.

    In the absence of anything of substance, this will be lost in the avalanche of petitions every White House gets every day—to which this President has proven repeatedly indifferent. [And they don’t even mention the fact that HE is also letting the Pentagon get away with denying important partner benefits to gay troops that even the DoD admits are NOT banned by DOMA.]

    Abolitionists didn’t just “urge” Lincoln to end slavery. Suffragettes didn’t just “urge” Wilson to support their right to vote. Rosa Parks didn’t just “urge” Montgomery to let her sit at the front of the bus. Martin Luther King, Jr., didn’t just “urge” Bull Connor to stop attacking demonstrators with police dogs or President Kennedy to introduce a civil rights bill. David Mixner, et al., did not just “urge” President Johnson to stop the Vietnam War. Leonard Matlovich did not just “urge” the Air Force to stop discharging gays or President Reagan to finally adequately fund a fight against AIDS. Dan Choi, Jim Pieterangelo, Miriam Ben-Shalom, Evelyn Thomas, GetEQUAL, et al., didn’t just “urge” Obama to end DADT.

    Couldn’t they at least hold a press conference in front of the White House alerting someone other than members of the gay choir that there even IS such an issue? How about a full-page ad in the “Washington Post” How about some guts?

    I URGE them to get off their stomachs! And gay media to stop perceiving and promoting them as anything more that the political posers they are.

    “It was the groups that would not take no for an answer. GetEQUAL, the 9/11 Healthcare…the first responders—who came here, who demonstrated, who chained themselves to the White House, who followed the President around and heckled him—absolutely would not take no for an answer—got their issues addressed. The people who were absolutely unrelenting, who didn’t try to play an inside game. It was the outside game that won this time.” – Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake, on the Lawrence O’Donnell show, “The Last Word,” Dec. 22, 2010.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” – Former slave & abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

  • Following the DADT story has been bizarre – it just gets more bizarre each week

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