With 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' gone,
OutServe hosts first conference for gay military personnel on active
The OutServe Armed Forces Leadership
Summit taking place in Las Vegas at the New York/New York hotel was
made possibly by the September 20 lifting of “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell,” the policy which for 18 years prescribed discharged for gay
and bisexual service members who did not remain celibate or closeted.
More than 14,000 service members were booted out of the military for
violating the policy.
The four-day event, which started
Thursday, will “provide the LGBT military community a means of
building professional networks, sharing best practices and
formulating strategies that help build a stronger military
community,” according to a brochure.
OutServe claims to have over 3,000
members and 48 chapters around the world. To make the event
manageable, registration was capped. At least 215 service members,
veterans and civilian allies are expected to attend.
Scheduled workshops cover topics such
as Partner and Family Benefits, Servicemembers and the Freedom to
Marry and Scriptures and Homosexuality.
Nathaniel Frank, who advocated for the
repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” called the event “historic.”
“'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' obviously
required people who in many cases needed support, the support of each
other and mutual assistance, to remain in the shadows even to one
another,” Frank, the author of Unfriendly Fire, told the AP.
“So to have a conference like this, where people can step out of
the shadows and come together to discuss the things that are
important to being the best soldiers they can be, is historic and is
essential and is one of the reasons so many people have been
advocating for an end to a policy that requires you to hide.”