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Saying that the Pentagon will have “no choice” but to work with them, a group of active-duty gay and lesbian servicemembers operating under the banner OutServe launched their new effort Monday morning, July 26.
Later that morning, Servicemembers United had its own announcement to make – the unveiling of a 501(c)(4) lobbying arm named Servicemembers United Action Fund. The 501(c)(4) status will allow the organization to lobby Congress without the limits placed on 501(c)(3) organizations and will allow it to, with limitations, engage directly in political campaign activities.
In the interim, SU – a group that has been active since early 2006 and represents both ”troops and veterans” – also took aim at OutServe’s claim about it being “the first-ever organization of actively serving gay troops” and a statement from its co-director that active-duty troops have been “almost completely absent from the conversation.”
Asked by Metro Weekly how OutServe, formerly known as Citizens for Repeal, can effectively communicate with the Pentagon while the DADT policy is still in effect, Ty Walrod, the group’s civilian co-director and spokesperson wrote in an e-mail response to Metro Weekly, “The answer is, they have no choice. Never before has this pressure come from within the military.
“As the first organization of actively serving gay and lesbian troops, we know they will follow our website outserve.org, pay attention to our press releases, and observe the working examples we can provide for units where gay and lesbian troops already serve openly in their units,” he wrote. “No more can they say ‘activists’ want this; they now have to deal with actual troops.”
Regarding the SU Action Fund, Alex Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United, said it will enable the group ”to hit the issue harder, to hit opponents harder.
”There are other [LGBT] organizations that have (c)(4)s, and they have not done this so far,” he said. ”We are of the mind that right now is not the time to scale back or sit back.”
To that end, Nicholson said that the first project of the SU Action Fund is a pair of websites aimed at the four senators from Virginia and Arkansas. Webbandwarner.org is aimed at Virginia Sens. Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D), while lincolnandpryor.org is aimed at Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D) and Mark Pryor (D).