This collection contains records and research material produced and collected by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a lobbying and legal assistance organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender servicepersons. They were instrumental in overturning the United States Department of Defense's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains correspondence, case files, legal briefs, subject files, research files, press releases, office records, clipping files, publications, and other material produced and collected by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a lobbying and non-profit legal services organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military servicepersons founded in the aftermath of the passage of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) legislation of December 1993. These records do not include material generated post 2009 and the final two years before the official overturning of DADT in September 2011. Before donation to the Archives Center, SLDN removed any material that they deemed sensitive, personal, or in violaton of their client's privacy.
Correspondence contains that which was sent by SLDN and received by SLDN. Major correspondents were: the Executive Office of the President, members of Congress, officials of the Department of Defense and other defense related federal agencies, other similarly focused non-profit organizations as well as private citizens. Correspondence may also include petitions, corresonpondence with clients of SLDN, those seeking legal services and or statistics related to DADT and others. Case files are generally refence copies of cases filed by SLDN, individuals, or invdividuals with other organizations relating to LGBT treatment within the military. Case files contain most often the public record copy of the legal brief that was filed with the courts and any supporting or relevant documents. Legal briefs relate to cases filed by SLDN or to the cases that in some way informed those legal cases and issues related to the mission of SLDN. Subject and research files were complied from various sources and contain copies or original material produced in support of the SLDN mission with regard to legal actions or as a lobbying organization. Press releases are generally those produced by SLDN. Office records pertain to the day to day workings of the organization and inter-office memorada and communication between employees or other organizations. Clipping files were compiled from a variety of national and international sources such as newspapers, magazines, and journals and used as reference tools within SLDN. Publications were those produced either by SLDN or collected by SLDN for research and reference purposes in-house.
The collection is arranged into four series, one of which has been arranged further into subseries. The contents of each series or subseries are arranged chronologically. The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:
Series 1, Administrative Records, 1994-2008
Series 2, Subject Files, 1980-2009 (bulk 1994-2009)
Subseries 1: Research Files, 1980-2008, undated
Subseries 2: Department of Defense, 1985-2003, undated
Subseries 3: United States Army, 1994-2005
Subseries 4: United States Navy, 1991-2008, undated
Subseries 5: United States Air Force, 1994-2004, undated
Subseries 6: United States Coast Guard, 1996-2005
Subseries 7: National Guard and Reserves, 2004
Series 3, Publications, 1988-2007
Series 4, Case Files, 1975-2008, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-profit founded in 1993 in the wake of the Clinton adminstration's efforts to make military service legal and non-discriminatory for openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. The organization employs less than twenty persons and has a Board of Directors. SLDN provided legal services to LGBT servicmembers and was also a lobbying and policy organization. This initiative resulted in the passing of legislation commonly referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) in December 1993. DADT prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual servicemembers or applicants while still barring openly homosexual or bisexual persons from military service. This policy proved controversial and continued to result in the discrimination and separation of LGBT persons from the military.
The original purpose of SLDN was working to overturn the DADT policy through legal or legislative means while providing free legal services to servicemembers targeted by DADT. Its scope of concern not only included active duty personnel but the National Guard, reserves, and officer training programs. On occasion it worked with other similarly focused organizations and directly with the Department of Defense and other relevant federal agencies. By the time of the repeal of DADT in September 2011 and its official enactment in January 2012, SLDN had provided legal aid to thousands of servicepersons.
In July 2012 SLDN announced that it was merging with OutServe, effective in October 2012. OutServe is an organization of active LGBT military servicepersons, reportedly one of the largest employee resource groups in the world. SLDN continues to provide free legal advice and assistance and also works with veteran organizations while maintaining a "watchdog" status on LGBT issues within the military establishment.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection, 1942-2012, undated (AC1146)
This collection was donated by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), 2012.
This collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Don't ask, don't tell (Military personnel policy) Search this