LGBT military advocacy group snubbed at White House event

Wed. April 13, 2011 6:05 AM by News Staff

Washington, DC - Servicemembers United, a gay military advocacy group, is upset that the White House blocked its members from attending the kickoff for a military families initiative on Tuesday.

The military initiative, Joining Forces, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden excluded gay families including Servicemembers United.

"The president has been crystal clear that the administration is moving forward with the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' quickly and efficiently," Kristina Schake, spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, said in a written statement. "However, it still remains the law."
But Servicemembers United Director Alexander Nicholson called the exclusion unwarranted telling The Advocate, "There is really no reason to continue to exclude gay families or their advocates from the first lady's events for military families and military family advocates."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest gay military advocacy group, said it understood the first lady's decision, but noted the exclusion highlights why ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal is needed sooner than later.

"Servicemembers Legal Defense Network looks forward to Mrs. Obama having the opportunity to sit down with LGB service members and their families later this year when Don't Ask is no longer the law," said SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. "In the interim, I remain confident that Mrs. Obama and the President value the unselfish contributions and sacrifices our LGB military families are making today and will find appropriate ways to acknowledge them this week."

Tuesday's event marked the official start of the "Joining Forces" initiative meant to build a support system for military families. The tour continues through Thursday.