Two groups which fought to end the
military's policy banning gay troops from serving openly are merging
into a new organization.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
(SLDN) and OutServe announced Monday that they are merging in the
Legal services group SLDN represented
service members who were discharged under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,”
the policy which for 18 years banned gay and bisexual troops from
serving openly. Since repeal of the policy, the group has shifted
toward advocating for equal benefits for gay troops.
OutServe is the leading group
representing active duty gay service members. The group quietly
lobbied for repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” operating mostly
repeal made discrimination against gays visible, says OutServe's Josh
Mike Magee, an SLDN board member,
called OutServe “an integral part of the fight to repeal” the
“It has become more and more clear
that our shared mission – representing actively serving military
and veterans, as well as fighting to achieve full LGBT equality in
the military – is better accomplished by uniting the two
organizations and working together as one on behalf of the brave men
and women of our armed forces,” Magee said in a statement.
“What began as a simple effort to
tell our stories has grown into something we could never have
imagined, and today's announcement that OutServe and SLDN will
combine represents the next step in that evolution,” said Josh
Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe.
Leaders of the two groups said they
hope to complete their merger by October. (A video announcing the
merger is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)