Allyson D. Robinson
This week our LGBT community helped make history, as voters across the nation rejected homophobia practically en masse to protect our civil rights and affirm our humanity. We’ve listed our wins so often since Tuesday that they now roll like a litany off our tongues: President Obama, reelected; marriage equality’s disheartening record of defeat at the ballot box, reversed; America’s first openly gay Senator on her way to Washington and a cadre of lesbian, gay and bisexual representatives stepping up to take her place in the House. (By the way: well done, LGBT community.)
Some commentators declared that I’d made history myself just two weeks ago when I was named the first Executive Director of the new OutServe-SLDN, the nation’s advocacy organization for LGBT service members, veterans and their families. When asked how it felt, becoming the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT civil rights organization, all I could say was that it was unbelievably humbling, a little overwhelming, and that I was glad to be joining a team that has become accustomed to making history.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) emerged in 1993 to defend service members against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, with all its career- and life-shattering implications. Since then, the organization has assisted more than 12,000 LGBT troops who have had legal issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. SLDN’s established presence in Washington and its deep connection to so many who were hurt by DADT made it the perfect organization to lead the fight for the law’s repeal.
Then, as that fight began to heat up, OutServe came on the scene with its own brand of history-making chutzpah. What began as an underground network of enterprising LGBT service members using Facebook to connect with one another quickly grew into a driving force behind the movement to end the law, joining SLDN and other allies in the fight. OutServe lent the movement a moral power that was undeniable and helped all America to feel the shame DADT had brought upon our country.