OutServe: The Progression of Homosexuality in the U.S. Military

“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday [June 15] thanked gay and lesbian military members for their service, as the Pentagon prepares to mark June as gay pride month with an official salute.”  Associated Press Online, June 15, 2012

“Panetta’s video message was part of a Pentagon salute to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender troops as the Pentagon joined the rest of the U.S. government for the first time in marking June as gay pride month.”  Ibid.

“OutServe, a once-clandestine professional association for gay service members, has nearly doubled in size to more than 5,500 members.  It held its first national convention of gay service members in Las Vegas last fall, then a conference on family issues this year in Washington.” Ibid.

            “At West Point, the alumni gay advocacy group Knights Out was able to hold the first installment in March of what is intended to be an annual dinner in recognition of gay and lesbian graduates and Army cadets.  Gay students at the U.S. Naval Academy were able to take same-sex dates to the academy’s Ring Dance for third-year midshipmen.  Ibid.

“Homosexual-rights groups have listed a number of demands since the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ including allowing cross-dressers and transsexuals to serve openly, and providing benefits for the spouses of homosexuals.” Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, February 27, 2012, p. 24

“An association of homosexuals in the military has more than doubled its membership since last year, is setting up more on-base chapters, and plans to hold its next national conference at a Defense Department resort at Walt Disney World.

“The expansion of the group OutServe in the five months since the repeal of the Pentagon’s ban on open homosexuals shows how a steady stream of service members is coming out of the closet and becoming better organized to achieve demands for more benefits.

“Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, OutServe’s co-director, said its current 4,900 members are more than double the number on Sept. 20, when the prohibition ended.  There are now 42 local chapters at bases around the world.

“We’re about to become the largest [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender employee resource groups] in the world,’ Lt. Seefried told The Washington Times. ‘We’re about to pass the major corporations such as IBM and Microsoft as the largest gay organization for employees.’

“Local chapters are becoming more active.  The OutServe group at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a nation at war, recently produced a video starring three enlisted personnel who give advice under the theme of ‘It Gets Better,’ a slogan of the homosexual-rights movement.

“’Don’t allow anyone to tell you you can’t do anything,’ says Staff Sgt. Steven Procter.

“’Life does get better, but it won’t get better until you start to accept yourself for who you are,’ says Staff Sgt. Shelise Harmon.

“The video concludes with scenes of military personnel across the base holding up makeshift ‘It Gets Better’ signs.

“OutServe attracted more than 200 people to its first national conference in Las Vegas last fall, when Douglas B. Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, spoke to the group.

“It expects to double that number Oct. 25-28, when the second conference opens at Shades of Green, a 586-room resort in Orlando, Fla., owned by the Defense Department.

“Lt. Seefried said OutServe sent solicitations to about 40 cities, including Orlando, whose tourism department contracted Shades of Green, which then sought the booking.

“One thing we like about the military property is it gives a very low hotel rate for your younger troops who attend,’ he said.  ‘You can’t beat the hotel rates there, and that’s a big driver.

“Shades of Green is one of three Armed Forces Recreation Centers in the U.S.’ others are in Hawaii and Virginia Beach.

“This resort is designed to provide R&R for our nation’s brave service members, their families and certain other eligible person,’ the website states.

“Imagine a peaceful wooded setting surrounding 585 oversized guest rooms, cascading waterfalls, lush tropical gardens, spectacular views from private patios and balconies amid stunning sunrises.  With diverse dining options, championship golf, plenty of kids’ activities and a premier location on Walt Disney World Resort, Shades of Green has all you are looking for in a totally relaxing vacation destination.’

“The name reflects the camouflage battle uniforms of four military branches.

“Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness and worked to keep the ban on homosexuals in the military, said OutServe is showing itself to be divisive.

“OutServe is a gay activist group using provocative tactics to advance their agenda in the military, and to establish themselves as a special-interest group pushing self-serving demands,’ Mrs. Donnelly said.  ‘Special-interest advocacy groups, which are inherently divisive, are not permitted for any other cohort in the military.’

“Homosexual-rights groups have listed a number of demands since the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ including allowing cross-dressers and transsexuals to serve openly, and providing benefits for the spouses of homosexuals.

“The Pentagon said it cannot provide such benefits because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the partnership of one man and one woman.”  Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, February 27, 2012, p. 24

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