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Friday, July 29, 2011

US Military Recruiters pressed to reach out to gays once ban is lifted

An underground gay group in the military wants recruiters to reach out to the gay community in the same way they target blacks, Hispanics and women.

The Pentagon’s ban on openly gays members is due to be lifted Sept. 20, meaning avowed gay people can sign up, those in the ranks can come out of the closet and the military will no longer discharge personnel because of sexual preference.

What is unclear is the number of post-ban policies that might be adopted to meet the demands of gays and ease integration of different sexual identities.

The group OutServe, which claims more than 4,000 gay and lesbian military members worldwide, plans a “coming-out party,” of sorts, in Las Vegas in October.

The group has invited Defense Department officials to attend an OutServe Armed Forces Leadership Conference and expects hundreds of military personnel to attend.

J.D. Smith, an active-duty Air Force officer who founded OutServe, said the military should think of gays when recruiting. “J.D. Smith” is an alias he uses because the ban is still in effect.

“Absolutely, we endorse the DoD advertising recruiting for the gay community, just as they would any other community,” he said in an email exchange with The Washington Times. “The DoD regularly attends public events to recruit, and we believe they should be at Pride events next year around the country to let the gay community know the opportunities to serve their nation.

“The DoD doesn’t need to do a campaign to let the public know they accept gays; they should do it so gays know of the opportunity now open to them.” (more)