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OutServe/SLDN, an activist group representing the interests of gay and lesbian servicemembers has released a statement ahead of the upcoming nomination of Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense. OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson, says:
“Senator Hagel clearly has the military credentials and experience to do the job of running our nation’s Defense Department – at OutServe-SLDN, we have no doubt about that – and we appreciate his apology for the anti-gay remarks he made in 1998 and the commitment he expressed to LGBT service members and their families. It will now be incumbent upon him during the nomination and confirmation process to lay out demonstrable actions he will take to support that commitment.
Senator Hagel has said he is ‘committed to LGBT military families,’ so if nominated and confirmed, he should immediately extend, via secretarial directive, all benefits available to married same-sex military couples and families while the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is still on the books. He said he is ‘fully supportive of open service,’ so he should extend military equal opportunity and nondiscrimination policies so that all qualified Americans who wish to serve this nation in uniform may do so without fear of harassment or discrimination. Steps such as these would do a great deal to allay the concerns many in our community have expressed over the last several weeks. I look forward in the weeks ahead to discussing these and other issues important to LGBT service members and their families with Senator Hagel and his designees.”
There are a handful of purely regulatory and administrative loose ends that still need to be cleaned up to provide better equity to serving members. OutServe/SLDN and other advocates for gay and lesbian servicemembers have been asking for them for several years now.
Panetta has been somewhat decent in addressing sexual assault issues in the military (by comparison to his predecessors). It is my hope that we can depend on Hagel, should he be confirmed, to continue that work.