Military gay rights groups agree to merge, continue advocacy
Published: July 3, 2012
WASHINGTON — Two of the most powerful advocacy groups behind the military gay rights movement agreed this weekend to combine their operations into a single professional association, moving the groups beyond last year’s repeal of the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.
Board members from OutServe, a network of more than 5,500 gay servicemembers and veterans, and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which provides legal assistance on discrimination and harassment issues for gay troops and veterans, voted to join the two groups into a new yet-to-be-named organization by October.
Officials from the two groups said the combined efforts will help focus attention on future fights for equality for gay servicemembers, including the push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pentagon leaders have pointed to that law – barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for the purpose of benefits – as the reason for denying housing stipends, health care coverage and other military perks for same-sex military couples.
The move will allow the groups to consolidate their donor bases and provide their existing services more efficiently. The new group will continue to produce a version of OutServe’s bi-monthly magazine, highlighting stories of gay troops and legislation affecting their lives.