SLDN Making History, Moving Forward Dinner

A message from our friends at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN),

We are honored to welcome Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), as co-chairs of SLDN’s 19th Annual National Dinner – Making History, Moving Forward – on March 19 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

These tireless champions courageously led the fight last year in the Senate and House to pass "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" repeal legislation. And in less than eight weeks, we will salute their leadership in an evening of celebration and reflection. We hope you can be there.

Time is quickly running out to RSVP. Seating is limited and tickets will sell out very soon. Any day now invitations will hit your mailboxes, but you can beat the last-minute rush and register online.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Heroes of the repeal movement – veterans, legislative leaders and advocates, as well as supporters from coast to coast – will join as one to celebrate and recommit to achieving full equality for LGBT service members at this year’s National Dinner.

We hope you can experience this special time of inspiration with the SLDN family. Purchase your ticket now to ensure you have a seat at the table.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Your resilience through the years helped us pass the historic repeal bill in 2010, and your dedication will continue to change lives for LGBT patriots as we resolve to tackle new challenges this year.

We look forward to seeing you March 19.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Report Release & Key Points

UPDATED WITH REPORT RELEASE:
SURROGATE TALKING POINTS:

WARNING TO SERVICE MEMBERS:

As the U.S. Senate is poised to take up repeal, service members still cannot come out. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT), has a free, confidential hotline for anyone with questions or concerns.  Hotline information and a warning to service members can also be found atwww.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk (the hotline is 202-328-3244 x100.)

A general just approved the separation of an SLDN client serving overseas in the U.S. Air Force.  This service member now faces an administrative separation board.  If the discharge moves forward, the fate of the service member’s career will ultimately fall to Secretary Michael B. Donley, Dept. of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel Dr. Clifford L. Stanley.

THE PENTAGON REPORT AND SENATE HEARINGS

(An update will be sent for this section after 2 pm ET / Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010):

This exhaustive report is overwhelmingly positive and constructive.  The Pentagon validated what repeal advocates and social scientists have been saying about open service for over a decade.

Some initial resistance may come from one or more of the service chiefs – the very leaders who will be charged with  implementing this change.  Those chiefs will need to salute and lead in bringing about this needed change.  Fortunately, the chiefs have already made it clear they will do precisely that if Congress acts.  

 KEY REPORT POINTS:

  • When asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believed was gay or lesbian, 92% stated that the unit’s "ability to work together" was "very good," "good," or "neither good nor poor."
  • 89% for those in ARMY combat arms units and 84% for those in MARINE combat arms units.
  • When asked about how having a service member in their immediate unit who said he or she is gay would affect the unit’s ability to "work together to get the job done," 70% of Service members predicted it would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.
  • When asked "in your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a co-worker that you believed to be homosexual," 69% of Service members reported that they had.
  • In communications with gay and lesbian current and former service members, the CRWG repeatedly heard a patriotic desire to serve and defend the Nation, subject to the same rules as everyone else.
  • The CRWG is convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war.  They do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated Service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our Nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.
  • The CRWG found "the risk of repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell to overall military effectiveness is low."
  • The CRWG believes this to be the "largest, most Comprehensive review of a personnel policy matter which the department of defense has ever undertaken."

 CALL THE SENATE NOW:

  • Congress needs to catch up and the Senate should immediately act to on repeal. 
  • A Pentagon report shows a clear majority of service members are okay serving side by side with their gay comrades. Sen. John McCain, however, rejects those findings and insists repeal language be stripped out of the defense bill. 
  • It is critical that repeal advocates be urging their senators to act in December to pass legislation repealing ‘Don’t Ask’ before Congress goes home for the year.  ACTION ALERT LINK / LANGUAGE BELOW IF ON RADIO/TV: http://bit.ly/dBKRcd

Call both your senators at the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to:

  • Stop using gay and lesbian service members as political pawns.
  • Stand up for national security and all our troops.
  • Pass the defense bill during the Senate’s lame-duck session in December.

 -         As Sec. Gates said, we don’t want to be fighting this in the courts – but if the legislature doesn’t do its job and repeal the law, advocates will continue an aggressive campaign in the judicial branch.

 -         Service members need finality.  We urge the U.S. Senate to act swiftly on repeal now.

 THE KEY FLOOR VOTES TO WATCH:

There will be at least two key votes to watch for when the Senate acts.

  • THE FIRST VOTE: SLDN and other repeal advocates are working to shore up a filibuster proof majority, 60 Senate votes, to proceed again to consideration of the NDAA.

Even with a filibuster proof 60-vote majority, SLDN and our repeal allies will be closely watching for any crippling amendments offered on the floor and a "motion to strike" that could allow repeal opponents to remove the repeal language from the defense bill.

  • THE SECOND VOTE: Sen. John McCain is expected to make an attempt to strike repeal from the larger defense bill.  SLDN is working closely with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin to guard against any attempts to strike repeal or weaken its provisions. 

EXAMPLE OF A HARMFUL AMENDMENT: For instance, we will vigorously oppose any amendment to expand the certification process in the "compromise." Opponents of open service may be considering an amendment that would require all of the Joint Chiefs to sign off on the certification process.  This killer amendment is designed to delay open service for years.

 KEY SENATORS WHO NEED TO HEAR FROM REPEAL SUPPORTERS NOW:

 –Susan Collins (R-ME);
–Olympia Snowe (R-ME);
–Mark Pryor (D-AR.);
–Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
–Richard Lugar (R-IN);
–Judd Gregg (R-NH);
–Scott Brown (R-MA)
–George Voinovich (R-OH);
–Kit Bond (R-MO);
–Joe Manchin (D-WV)
–Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
–Mark Kirk (R-IL)
–James Webb (D-VA)

 

Responding to recent "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" developments

Our friends at Servicemembers Defense League put together information for us regarding the recent action around "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell", the military policy which prohibits openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual individuals from serving.

  1. Tuesday’s announcement that Judge Phillips of the Log Cabin case has ordered a stop to discharges was positive news. However, the government will likely appeal the decision, and it is still not safe for servicemembers to come out. We must keep the pressure up to repeal DADT through Congress during the lame-duck session. SLDN’s most recent release (from last night) about these events is at this link.
  2. Election season is upon us, and DADT repeal can play a role in local discussion. Organizations can encourage membership to check on where their elected officials and candidates stand on DADT repeal and bring up the issue with these candidates. Here are links to the Murphy amendment roll call in the House, the Senate Armed Services Committee vote, and the Senate floor vote on cloture so people will know where their elected officials stood when it counted.
  3. These talking points still apply for letters and other communication with senators. They emphasize holding the Senate accountable for the failed cloture vote and looking toward the lame-duck session.

We hope this helps!

Executive Director to Join Dialogue with Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network

Two weeks ago, Soulforce Executive Director, Dr. Cindi Love and Soulforce Founder, Rev. Mel White, went to Washington, D.C. to meet with eleven LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network.  Dr. Love has been invited to join the conference calls with SLDN to provide insight regarding the influence of fundamentalist religious leaders within and on the armed forces.

We want you to have the background on this dialogue provided in summary by MRFF.  America’s civilian Commander in Chief issued a directive that changes are to occur in the US military. This includes specific expectations of how changes will be put in place to ensure justice and a respect for Constitutional and privacy issues for persons based on sexual orientation. These changes will come about in the future, and it is critical for the military to be ready to understand how this evolution is part of accepting the pluralism of the world in which they function.
Many young and gifted recruits turn to the armed services as a step toward adulthood. Not surprising, many do so with struggles and questions about who they are as a person just as about their spirituality.

Soulforce is grounded in our commitment to ensuring that policies such as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and outdated philosophies regarding sexual and gender orientation do not interfere with any soldier’s free expression of their rights. As you are aware, fundamentalist Christian organizations are fighting the repeal of DADT and we need your help to nonviolently resist the pressure of these organizations.  Please write your representatives in Washington and ask them to repeal DADT now.