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SLDN releases first-ever guide to post-DADT service

WASHINGTON -- Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today unveiled a comprehensive new legal guide for LGBT servicemembers, veterans, future recruits and their families, creating a first-of-its-kind overview of laws and policies related to military service in the U.S. following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), as well as practical information for advocates and friends of LGBT servicemembers.

Download "Freedom To Serve: The Definitive Guide To LGBT Military Service" HERE.

“The information contained in this legal guide will help service members, prospective servicemembers, their families and friends make informed decisions about how to serve successfully as we move beyond ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It will also assist them in understanding how to protect themselves when necessary and how to respond if they are targeted in any way for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” SLDN Legal Director David McKean said.

In addition, the guide serves as the core content for the newly designed SLDN website, www.sldn.org, unveiled today. The re-launched site is aimed squarely at providing LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families with the legal tools and other information they need to navigate the post-DADT repeal military environment.

“As has been our core mission since the founding of SLDN, we stand ready to represent and defend LGBT service members whenever the need arises, and our new online site reflects that ongoing commitment, while providing the most up-to-date and relevant information possible for those serving our country and those who support them,” said Army veteran Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN's executive director.

In addition to outlining SLDN’s legal services, the new guide and website cover a myriad of issues including standards of conduct, benefits for spouses and families of service members, discharge upgrades and veterans benefits. The new guidance becomes effective upon repeal of DADT on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Until then, those seeking information or assistance should consult the SLDN Survival Guide, outlining issues related to serving under DADT.

Sarvis said that SLDN will continue the fight for full equality for LGB troops who are serving today, as well as for those qualified Americans who wish to join after the repeal of DADT takes place on Sept. 20.

“The work of advancing military equality marches forward after repeal. At SLDN, we will fight alongside those who may face harassment or discrimination as we oversee implementation; when necessary and timely, litigate in the courts to bring about full LGBT equality in America’s military; advocate for legally married service members to receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts; and assist veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork,” Sarvis said.

SLDN warnings to LGBT troops

STILL AT RISK: Despite the certification issued July 22, 2011, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until Sept. 20, 2011, when repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will become final. Click here to read our warning to service members.

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1 (800) 538-7418 or (202) 328-3244 x100.

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) was established in 1993. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. We have received more than 11,000 calls for assistance to our legal hotline.