by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
In the wake of DADT repeal, a historic, first-ever conference sponsored by active-duty LGBT military members is scheduled to take place this weekend in Las Vegas.
The OutServe Armed Forces Leadership Summit will welcome more than 200 currently serving LGBT and straight military members, veterans, spouses/partners, and allies to join workshops and meetings. Topics include leadership, family, faith, unique challenges faced by servicewomen, and lessons on open service from military allies, all with the objective of strengthening the U.S. military.
'Diversity is rightly viewed by the military as a force multiplier,' said Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, OutServe co-director. 'All of us in the armed forces share the same mission, and by taking advantage of our unique differences and points of view, we become stronger.'
According to OutServe officials, the conference will provide an international forum on creating an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, and provide the LGBT military community a venue for building professional networks, sharing best practices, and formulating strategies that help build a stronger military community.
In addition to a number of active-duty attendees, Gay former military officers Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning, Air Force Maj. Mike Almy, and Army Capt. Jonathan Hopkins will speak about leadership while being 'out.' Naval Academy grad and founder of the Military Acceptance Project Kristen Kavanaugh will join an active-duty military psychologist to provide resources for service members and their partners who are separated by deployment, or who need support for other issues. Chaplains from the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy will speak about pluralism and professionalism in the chaplaincy, and former Marine Capt. Anu Bhagwati of Service Women's Action Network will present information on the special concerns of military women.
'This is very much a series of working sessions,' said Hopkins, a decorated veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. 'DADT is done; now let's get to work on getting the most out of every individual through that environment of respect.'
Summit sponsors include the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the Central Intelligence Agency, Amazon, Courage Campaign, American Veterans for Equal Rights, Out & Equal, Log Cabin Republicans, Stonewall Democrats, Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Wells Fargo, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, PRIDE Institute, and Coverity.
OutServe is an association of actively serving LGBT military personnel that launched in 2010. With more than 4,000 members and 40-plus chapters worldwide, it is one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world. OutServe works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
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