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Starting tonight, military service members past and present across the country will be celebrating the end of the decades-long ban of gays and lesbians openly serving in the U.S. military.
The new law takes effect Tuesday, at 00:01 a.m., September 20, 2011.
Although all are encouraged to participate in the celebrations, SLDN just wants to remind active duty members of what they need to take into consideration as they understandably get caught up in the revelry of the many different types of gatherings that will take place in the wake of this historic repeal.
There are rules and regulations in place that govern the conduct of any military member that must still be adhered to. As a result, Servicemember Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has released a set of guidelines.
Here is the full statement from SLDN regarding the dos and don'ts:
We expect that most of the DADT repeal celebrations will be just that - celebrations of the repeal of a bad law. No special rules apply to attendance at or participation in such events.
Service members, including those on active duty, should be able to attend these events as a spectator-celebrant and even participate in them.
They may wear their uniforms and speak as individuals about the importance of repeal to them personally, and to the services, generally. They may say that they are happy and proud that they now do not have to hide their sexual orientation, etc.
They should not, of course, criticize their commanders (or past commanders) or elected officials or urge the election or defeat of candidates for office or of contributions to LGBT rights groups.
Because of their programs, however, other events might be considered non-partisan political events - identified with a political party. Such an event could be one that included, for example, speeches advocating LGBT equality and solicitation of contributions to LGBT rights groups.
A service member, including one on active duty, may attend such an event as a spectator and may participate in it, but may not wear the uniform and may not do anything to suggest official sponsorship or endorsement.
A third type of event is the partisan political event – one relating to candidates representing political parties. We would not expect any of the DADT repeal celebrations to fall into this category.
A service member on active duty may attend such an event as a spectator if not in uniform, but may not speak at or otherwise participate in it. A member not on active duty may participate, but only in a way that does not give rise to the inference or appearance of official sponsorship or endorsement.
Finally, an active duty service member may not engage in fundraising for an LGBT equality cause or any other political cause or celebration if it is held on a military base or reservation.
If you have any questions about your level of participation, contact Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) at (202) 328-3224, or visit their website at SLDN.org.