OutServe helped create a stable gay community in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. The website had more than 300 members over there.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

The Repeal of DADT and The Success Of OutServe

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"No words can really describe the desire to serve in uniform, the desire to serve your country and have that noble career, and I saw no other path for me."

So stated Josh Seefried, an active-duty Air Force officer and the co-founder and co-director of OutServe, an association of LGBT military personnel. Seefried, through OutServe, was a key figure in expressing the difficulties faced by gays and lesbians in the military under DADT.

After the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy became final and effective in 2011, officially allowing gay and lesbian troops to serve openly for the first time in U.S. history, Seefried, who had used the pseudonym "J.D. Smith" was finally able to speak publicly using his real name.

18 YEARS, 14,000 GAY AND LESBIAN MILITARY DISCHARGED

"When I entered the academy, I didn't know I was gay at all," he commented. My sophomore year, one of my best friends at the academy came out to me, and..I realized during that time I was gay. At the end of my sophomore year, I was faced with the hard realization that I would serve under "Don't ask, don't tell" for a very long time.

"Don't Ask, Don't Rell" at first almost sounds reasonable; military servicemembers were instructed to just not talk about this one aspect of their lives. "Many people don't realize how hard that is until you actually start living the policy," Seefried explained. The basic idea is that everyone in the military is family to be trusted. "But. you have to lie about yourself. When that foundation at the very start is a lie, you lose that family aspect about the military," Seefried clarified.

When he graduated from the Air Force Academy, Seefried at first thought that living a double life going to get a lot easier. "I was absolutely wrong," he stated.

Seefreid said he complained about an instructor at the Tactical Training Course who changed his scores upon finding out about Seefried's homosexuality only to have the instructor "out" him. Seefried admits his place in the military was saved by the policy that protected against third-party malicious outings. But still, he was removed from his job. It was then that Seefried started OutServe, to posted stories anonymously, creating a database of gay active-duty troops who felt connected.

OutServe helped create a stable gay community in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. The website had more than 300 members over there. Eventually Seefried wrote a book about his experience as a gay man serving under DADT, to reach out to gay military members.

"People realize they're not alone in the military and it's not wrong to be gay.' Seefried commented. With the book, I wanted to speak to other gay military members and let them know there are other people out there.

Seefried called U.S. Marine Corps, General James Amos, who at first opposed the repeal, and later expressed his intentions to implement and support the new law "an example of military leadership at its finest.

JOINT ASSIGNMENTS AND DEPENDENT STATUS: SPOUSAL RIGHTS FOR GAYS IN THE MILITARY

Plans to push for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is something Seefried and OutServe continue to support. "Someone who is gay in the military should have the right to get married and have the same protections as other married couples."

A 2011 survey revealed that gay service members want to feel equal, and have partner benefits.

Under "Don't ask, don't tell," discrimination was invisible. Sexual inequality will create two classes of military: those who have marriage rights and those who don't. Seefried hopes to end this inequality in the same way that DADT ended: with support and acceptance from those in positions of military leadership, and from the military community.



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