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OutServe-SLDN Logo.png
Formation July 26, 2010
  • Worldwide
Membership >7,000
Director Allyson Robinson (Oct 2012-Jul 2013)
Josh Seefried (co-director 2010-2013)
Ty Walrod (co-director 2010-2012)
John Gillespie (co-director 2013-present)
Jeff Mueller (co-director 2013-present)
Website www.OutServe-SLDN.org
www.OutServe.org (former website)

OutServe-SLDN is a network of LGBT actively serving military personnel, which launched publicly on July 26, 2010 as OutServe, and is one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world.[1] At its founding it was co-directed by a 2009 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Josh Seefried (formerly known as JD Smith to protect his identity) and Ty Walrod. There are currently over 7,000 members and 80 chapters worldwide.[2]

On July 2, 2012, OutServe announced that it would merge with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization that advocates on behalf of and provides legal services to gay and lesbian military personnel and veterans, in October 2012.[3] On October 25, 2012, Allyson Robinson was the first Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN following the merger of those two organizations.[4] She was the first transgender person to ever lead a national LGBT rights organization that does not have an explicit transgender focus.[5]

As part of an extensive reorganization and a review of the organization's mission and finances, which included some public airing of internal dissension and inability to fund its current operations, Josh Seefried resigned from the Board on July 8, 2013[6][7] Less than nine months after hiring Robinson, OutServe-SLDN's board announced it was bankrupt and had to close its Washington D.C. headquarters; on the same day, Robinson announced that her resignation as executive director would take effect the following day, July 12, 2013.[8][9] The board announced that for at least a year it plans to focus on the financial crisis and the payment of debts, followed by an eventual return to providing "advocacy, development, or other support."[10] Since that time, OutServe-SLDN has continued to actively serve its over 7,000 members and in early 2014 engaged with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Marriage Equality Cases in Oklahoma and Utah.[11]


Former OutServe logo prior to 2012 design change.

Allyson Robinson was the first Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN,[4] following the merger of those two organizations. She was the first transgender person to ever lead a national LGBT rights organization that does not have an explicit transgender focus.[5] U.S. Army veteran Jonathan Hopkins is the former main spokesman, and was mentioned by President Barack Obama at the signing ceremony for the legislation authorizing repeal of Don't ask, don't tell (DADT). United States Military Academy alumna, Brenda Sue Fulton, also the chair of Knights Out, is the former communications director.[12] Brian Schaaf, an Air Force active duty non-commissioned officer, is the current OutServe-SLDN Director of Communications and a board member.

Logo of OutServe (2012)

There are leaders for each of the 80+ chapters worldwide, whose identities, as well as those of all members, were kept anonymous under DADT. With the expiration of DADT on September 20, 2011, JD Smith revealed his true identity. One hundred and one OutServe members in total came out publicly with the end of DADT.[13]


As of April 2011, OutServe was divided into 42 regional chapters, with a total membership of over 5,000 members. It included personnel from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, both commissioned officers and enlisted. Due to privacy concerns, OutServe's Membership was closely guarded and monitored. Each chapter has an internally selected leader. Several chapters have hosted meetings and social gatherings aimed at improving the morale and quality of life of the members. The structure of OutServe was inspired by the British military's Proud2Serve organization.[14] As of 2014, OutServe has continued to grow and now has a total membership of over 7,000 members in 80+ chapters worldwide.


In June 2010, OutServe sent a letter criticizing the Comprehensive Review Working Group's initial decision to exclude gay and lesbian military personnel from the DADT review process.[12]

On July 26, 2010, OutServe was falsely accused of claiming to be the first organization to directly represent active-duty service members, specifically. Walrod said that OutServe was not interested in claiming credit for the work of other organizations and only aimed to give a voice to personnel silenced by the DADT policy.[15]

At the end of August 2011, the DOD approved the distribution of OutServe Magazine at Army and Air Force base exchanges beginning with the September 20 issue, coinciding with the end of DADT.[16]

OutServe Magazine[edit]

Main article: OutServe Magazine

OutServe Magazine is a bi-monthly periodical digital and print publication of OutServe, a non-profit, non-governmental organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members in the United States Armed Forces. It was first published in March 2011, while OutServe was still operating clandestinely prior to the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned open gays from service. The publication is distributed free of charge and is available for downloading and redistribution.


Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) was founded as a non-profit legal services, watchdog, and policy organization founded in the United States in 1993. It was dedicated to ending discrimination and harassment of gay and lesbian U.S. military personnel negatively affected by the "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy which was established that same year. Before being merged into OutServe-SLDN, SLDN documented over 700 violations in the policy's first two years of operation.[17] As of January, 2011, it provided legal aid to more than 10,000 service members.[18]

SLDN was criticized by parts of the transsexual and intersex communities for excluding them from "Freedom to Serve" events and activism during the DADT debate.[19] Others criticized the organization for presenting the "Barry Winchell Courage Award", named for Barry Winchell, an Army private who was murdered after it was discovered that he was dating transsexual activist and actress Calpernia Addams. Winchell's sexual orientation is disputed.[20][21]


In June 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against SLDN in Cook v. Gates, in which SLDN's twelve clients sought reinstatement in the military after being discharged under DADT.[22]

On October 27, 2011, SLDN sued the Department of Defense, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and two statutes that detail military benefits.[23] In a November 21 filing, SLDN argued:[24]

Any claim that DOMA, as applied to military spousal benefits, survives rational basis review is strained because paying unequal benefits to service members runs directly counter to the military values of uniformity, fairness and unit cohesion. While there was once a debate as to whether gay and lesbian service members should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces -- just as there were similar debates regarding integrating the military by race and then by gender -- there never has been any debate as to whether similarly situated service members who do the same work deserve the same benefits.

The case, McLaughlin v. Panetta, was put on hold at the request of both sides in anticipation of the outcome of two other First Circuit cases that were being appealed, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services.[25] On February 17, 2012, the DOJ announced it could not defend the constitutionality of the statutes challenged in the case.[26] The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) of the U.S. House of Representatives sought to undertake the defense, and as of May 2012, the parties were disputing BLAG's right to intervene.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Rothaus (7 July 2012). "Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, OutServe vote to merge into one organization". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "About OutServe". OutServe. 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Stronger. Together. SLDN, OutServe Boards Announce Intent to Combine" (Press release). SLDN. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "SLDN & Outserve Tap Army Veteran To Lead Newly Combined Organization". Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  5. ^ a b Chris Geidner (25 October 2012). "Military Group Picks Trans Woman As Leader". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Brydum, Sunnivie (June 24, 2013). "Allyson Robinson to Continue as OutServe-SLDN Director for 'Near Term'". The Advocate. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ Snow, Justin (June 24, 2013). "OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson to stay on temporarily after board upset". MetroWeekly. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ Aravosis, John (July 11, 2013). "Allyson Robinson announces resignation as ED of OutServe-SLDN". Americablog. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ Aravosis, John (July 12, 2013). "OutServe-SLDN closes headquarters, reveals organization is bankrupt". Americablog. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ Aravosis, John (July 12, 2013). "OutServe-SLDN closes headquarters, reveals organization is bankrupt". America's blog. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  11. ^ Schaaf, Brian (March 3, 2014). "Amicus Brief filed today to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit". 
  12. ^ a b Michael Riley (June 9, 2010). "Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" study draws fire from advocates, gay soldiers". The Denver Post. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Leo Shane III (September 20, 2011). "An outspoken anti-DADT activist reveals his identity". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 20 September 20, 2011.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ Devin Dwyer (December 1, 2010). "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': Closeted Gay Troops Build Secret, Worldwide Support Network". ABC News. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ Chris Geidner (July 26, 2010). "OutServe to Launch Effort Representing Active Gay and Lesbian Troops". Metro Weekly. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  16. ^ Leo Shane III (August 30, 2011). "Gay military magazine to land at Army, AF bases". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  17. ^ C. Dixon Osburn, Michelle M. Benecke, Kirk Childress (1997). Conduct Unbecoming: 3rd Annual Report on Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 0-7881-4678-5. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "San Diego Community News: Momentum on the Midway fund-raiser returns to San Diego". Gay and Lesbian Times (923). 1 September 2005. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "SLDN Releases Post-DADT Freedom to Serve Guide and Demands Benefits". The San Francisco Bay Times. 25 August 2011. 
  20. ^ Bob Roehr (9 October 2003). "SLDN celebrates ten years fighting for LGBT people in the military". Pride Source - Between The Lines News (1141). 
  21. ^ Gerri L. Elder. "Case Examines the Law Regarding Transgender Discrimination". Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  22. ^ SLDN: Cook v. Gates, accessed July 11, 2011
  23. ^ Chris Geidner (27 October 2011). "SLDN Files DOMA Challenge, Seeking Equal Benefits for Same-Sex Military Spouses". MetroWeekly. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  24. ^ Chris Geidner (21 November 2011). "SLDN Lawyers Tell Court 'American Servicemembers and Their Families Are Among DOMA's Victims". MetroWeekly. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  25. ^ Chris Geidner (February 16, 2012). "SLDN, DOJ Agree to 60-Day Delay in Case Challenging Gay Servicemembers' Spousal Benefits". MetroWeekly. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  26. ^ Chris Geidner (17 February 2012). "DOJ Won't Defend Laws Preventing Equal Treatment for Servicemembers With Same-Sex Spouses". MetroWeekly. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Boehner moves to defend anti-gay DOMA in military case". The Wisconsin Gazette. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 

External links[edit]