November 29, 2010
by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign
Over the past few weeks, we’ve stepped up our efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” partnering with Rep. Patrick Murphy, VoteVets.org, our friends at SLDN, reaching out to empower veterans to speak in support of lifting the ban on lesbian and gay Americans serving openly in our armed forces.
Today, Courage is proud to be partnering with OutServe, an underground network of more than 1,200 active-duty gay and lesbian members of the military, in launching the latest iteration of the Testimony website to amplify the voices of veterans and active duty service members, both gay and straight, calling on Congress to end DADT.
Please read the following message from OutServe member Jd Smith on the power of these stories to change hearts and minds, and to move Congress to action. Then visit our Testimony website to watch the videos and share these stories with your friends.
In the last few weeks, 69,360 Americans — including 12,462 veterans and their families — have signed Rep. Patrick Murphy’s Courage Campaign petition to Senate leaders. We followed that up by launching an advertising campaign on military web sites sending John McCain and Republicans a message that veterans and their families support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
On Tuesday, the long-awaited Pentagon survey of active-duty servicemembers will be released, followed by Senate hearings on Thursday and Friday featuring testimony from military leadership. That’s why we’re bringing you this important message from Jd Smith (name anonymized), an active-duty servicemember who recently helped launch OutServe, an underground network of more than 1,200 active-duty gay and lesbian members of the military. Please read his compelling story below.
Chair, Courage Campaign
Dear Friend —
A few months ago, I was blackmailed under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Some people who knew that I was gay — and serving in the military — tried to use it against me to get what they wanted. After years of serving my country, I couldn’t take it any longer.
So I started talking with fellow gay and lesbian servicemembers and we decided to take action. Over the past few months, we’ve organized Outserve — the largest network of active duty gay and lesbian servicemembers ever assembled. Using hidden social media, we are all connected, we can see each other, communicate with each other, and most importantly, support each other.
In the last few months, Outserve has created 27 chapters around the globe, with more than 1,200 members. We are as diverse as the military and our country as a whole. We are among those serving right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. And like all who wear the uniform proudly, we are united by an unflinching commitment to give our lives, if necessary, in service to our country.
Now, with the Senate set to consider repeal of DADT in early December, we — gay and straight veterans alike — are speaking with one voice. We’re in this fight together and, together, we’re going to finally put an end to a failed policy that hurts our military, undermines the trust our troops need on the battlefield, and contradicts the values that generations of veterans have fought and died to defend.
With the support of the Courage Campaign’s “Testimony” project, we have uploaded several videos from both gay and straight veterans and servicemembers sharing their thoughts about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Will you watch these videos now, share them with your friends and — if you are a veteran — upload a video of your own?
For years, I have served openly as a gay servicemember in the ranks. Most of my straight brothers and sisters in arms have been nothing but supportive. In fact, they are the ones I owe for saving my career under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
When I came under investigation under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” it was my straight fellow servicemembers who came to my aid. It was my straight colleagues who saved me from being discharged.
While elimination of DADT is supported by President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, majorities in both houses of Congress, and 78% of the American people, Senator John McCain has threatened a filibuster. He says he wants to hear from our troops and their families. We are going to make sure he does.
Veterans know that DADT is bad for our military — especially in a time of war — and America needs to hear their stories. Before the Senate begins its deliberations, you can help ensure the politicians hear the truth about this failed policy. Will you watch these videos now, share them with your friends and — if you are a veteran — upload a video of your own?
Thank you for your support. At the end of the day, we are all in this fight together.