SLDN’s Comm Director Trevor Thomas joins Socarides, Eleveld at Equality Matters

This evening I received an email from Trevor Thomas, the ace communications director at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announcing his move to Equality Matters, the new rapid-response LGBT venture of Media Matters for America. He will serve as Programs Director alongside President Richard Socarides and online editor Kerry Eleveld; he starts at EqM on January 24th. (MetroWeekly): Socarides:

“He is an incredible advocate and forthright spokesperson. We are excited he has agreed to join us and continue his work on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at Equality Matters.”

In an email sent this evening to friends and colleagues that he gave permission for Metro Weekly to publish, he wrote of his time at SLDN, “When I arrived to SLDN, I viewed it broadly as another gay rights group.  It didn’t take long to recognize SLDN was a military group first and foremost.  For so many on the staff and board, ending ‘Don’t Ask’ was deeply personal. Many of them were discharged or served in fear and silence.

“In my own life, my brother Ricky enlisted in the United States Army at age 18. My father served in the 126th Infantry of the Michigan National Guard. And my grandfather served as a U.S. Army Corporal during World War II. I’ve been fortunate to find my own road to pay it forward.”

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On a semi-related note, as Kerry Eleveld wraps up her stint at The Advocate, don’t miss her latest interview — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A snippet:

Feeling your way through an interview with one of the world’s most powerful women is more art than science. Marriage seemed like the place to start, since Clinton had been caught off guard by a recent inquiry on the issue while visiting Australia. Her husband has said that he now supports full marriage equality: Many of his gay friends are in committed relationships, former president Bill Clinton said in 2009. As far as marriage goes, he said, he had just been “hung up about the word.”

Did she share his experience? I wondered. Was she at odds with President Barack Obama’s stated position in support of civil unions but against marriage equality?

But on the phone, Clinton is circumspect about her husband’s comments. “Well, I share his experience because we obviously share a lot of the same friends, but I have not changed my position,” she says without elaborating. The secretary wasn’t taking any political bait, nor was she going to tangle with anything that could figure negatively for her boss.

Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor, Cheryl Mills, had modeled the same on-message discipline when I sat down with her a few weeks earlier, avoiding any comparison between the secretary’s movement on LGBT issues and the president’s. Mills and Clinton have been friends for nearly 20 years, dating back to when Mills served as deputy White House counsel for President Clinton. She arrived on the national stage as part of a legal team defending the president during the 1999 impeachment trial. A quick Google search of Mills’s name turns up the crux of her argument, spoken on the Senate floor from the perspective of an African-American woman: “I’m not worried about civil rights, because this president’s record on civil rights, on women’s rights, on all of our rights, is unimpeachable…. I stand here before you today because President Bill Clinton believed I could stand here for him.”

(Note/disclaimer and all that jazz – I am a member of the Equality Matters advisory board.)
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Flashback to June 27, 2009: SLDN’s DADT protest in front of White House

Today, as noted below, SLDN has organized a protest at the Capitol. This isn’t the first protest. In June of 2009, SLDN organized a protest in front of the White House to protest the President’s inaction on DADT repeal. The group wanted the President to lead. Still waiting. I am reposting my coverage of that protest. We had indications over a year ago that there was trouble with DADT repeal. SLDN got into a lot of trouble with the White House over this protest and the repeated efforts through 2009 to get the process moving. Back then, we all thought we’d get ENDA passed before DADT repeal. But, we didn’t even get a committee vote on ENDA. I don’t think anyone thought we’d get to the end of this session of Congress with neither. There’s still some hope on DADT, but everything has to go very smoothly with no procedural BS games.

From June 27, 2009:

According to press pool reports, President Obama was at the White House today. I hope he heard the noise from the protest organized by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The group collected 265 buttons, symbolizing the 265 servicemembers who have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since Obama took office, for delivery to the President.

As we all know, the President committed to ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeatedly during the primaries and general election. But, it hasn’t happened. Nothing has. As Obama said on his campaign website:

America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Dont Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.

Leadership. Yes. It is needed.

It’s really quite sad that SLDN has to protest to get the attention of the White House. But, we are where we are and this White House needs pressure. If you haven’t called yet, the number is 202-456-1414. Tell Obama to end the DADT policy — he has the power. Yes, we want a legislative repeal, but Obama can stop the discharges NOW. He is the leader.

Here’s a video with several scenes, too:

Still waiting for leadership. In June of 2009, this was a very brave act. No one on the progressive side was protesting Obama — except some gay activists. The DOMA brief was filed on June 12, 2009 so some of us were already aware that we didn’t have a fierce advocate, as promised. The gays were ahead of the curve.




AMERICAblog Gay

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