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First steps of Pentagon review on trans service underway

Top brass to meet on lifting prohibition based on gender identity



transgender, service members, gay news, Washington Blade

transgender, service members, gay news, Washington Blade

The first steps of the review of the transgender military ban are underway. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Pentagon has started its first steps of reviewing the U.S. military’s ban on openly transgender service and has scheduled a meeting with top brass on the issue, a defense official said Wednesday. The news was first reported by USA Today.

The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the working group established to examine openly transgender military service is set to hold its first meeting on Monday.

“The working group will be comprised of military and civilian personnel from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the various military services and the Joint Staff and will look at the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly in the U.S. military,” the official said.

According to USA Today, key issues for the Pentagon to resolve are housing for transgender troops, what uniforms they’ll be permitted to wear and medical treatments. It’s unclear at this point if the military intends cover transition-related care for transgender service members.

In a memo dated July 28 and obtained Wednesday by the Washington Blade, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter outlines his plan for transgender service that he announced earlier this month. The memo seeks to protect transgender troops from expulsion and directs officials to develop a plan within six months to incorporate those troops into the ranks.

“The working group will start with the assumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified, and shall present its recommendations to me within 180 days,” Carter says.

Carter writes in the memo as of July 13 no service member may be involuntarily separated or denied reenlistment on the basis of gender identity without the personal approval of a senior civilian official — an apparent attempt to limit or halt further discharges. The senior civil official given this authority is Brad Carson, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, who’s also leading the working group.

Although repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” enabled openly gay people to serve in the U.S. military, transgender troops are prohibited from serving openly in the armed forces under DOD Instruction 6130.03, which calls for separation of service members who undergo gender reassignment or have “psychosexual conditions” that include transvestitism or transsexualism.

Amid building pressure from LGBT advocates to lift the trans ban, Carter announced last month he intends to set up a working group that over a six-month period is set to examine the policy with a bias toward allowing Americans to serve in the armed forces regardless of gender identity and raised the authority to discharge individuals in the armed forces on the basis of gender identity.

Sue Fulton, president of the LGBT military group SPARTA, said the process underway at the Pentagon is “moving forward with appropriate speed.”

“Pentagon leaders recognize the problems currently facing unit commanders, who have been trying to support their transgender troops under unwieldy and confusing regulations,” Fulton added. “The next few months will allow the Working Group to bring a hodgepodge of outdated personnel and medical policies into alignment with current medical understanding; the result will strengthen the force and keep good troops where we need them.”

Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, said plenty of material exists that can help guide the Pentagon toward openly transgender military service.

“The research by retired General and Flag Officers as well as the experiences of 18 foreign militaries, who allow transgender troops to serve, show that administrative and medical issues associated with lifting the ban are not complicated or burdensome, and that implementation is easy to get right,” Belkin said.

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2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.



It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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Biden highlights LGBTQ rights in UN General Assembly speech

President noted crackdowns in Chechnya, Cameroon



President Biden addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021. (Screen capture via NBC News)

President Biden on Tuesday in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly spoke in support of LGBTQ rights around the world.

“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear,” he said.

Biden in his speech specifically cited anti-LGBTQ crackdowns in Chechnya and Cameroon. He spoke after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, addressed the General Assembly.

“As we pursue diplomacy across the board, the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and a people: freedom, equality, opportunity and a belief in the universal rights of all people,” said Biden.

The White House earlier this year released a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.

The decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations and protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers are two of the administration’s five priorities in its efforts to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in their country after the Taliban regained control of it, but it remains unclear how many of them the U.S. has been able to evacuate.

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Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar



Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit

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