On July 22, 2021, we will launch PRIDE without Prejudice, a virtual outreach series aimed at providing legal information and resources to the LGBTQIA+ community and allies. We recognize the importance of creating an online space where gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals can get information about their rights in the legal landscape.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (“DADT”) was the official United States policy regulating military service by people identifying as gay, bisexual, or lesbian. The policy prohibited people who “demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from serving in the United States’ armed forces, because their presence “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order, discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” The Act specified that service members who disclose they are homosexual or engage in homosexual conduct should be discharged. Since DADT ended in 2011, individuals who are openly homosexual and bisexual have been able to serve. Unfortunately, many veterans discharged before it ended live without access to VA benefits.
Our first PRIDE without Prejudice will feature our Military and Veteran’s Unit in a discussion on discharge upgrades. A discharge upgrade changes the “character of service” shown on the service member’s DD-214 discharge certificate. Today, most certificates show the “character of service” as either Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable. Those found guilty of homosexual conduct before the end of DADT received dishonorable discharges and were, unfortunately, lumped together with individuals who faced serious charges such as desertion, sexual assault, and even murder. A change in the reason for discharge can mean full VA benefits, including the GI Bill and other education benefits, a Certificate of Eligibility for a VA-backed mortgage loan, life insurance for the service member and their family, and even medical care, like it did for Carl Tebell. Carl Tebell was granted an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy nearly 70 years after he was drummed out for being gay.
Tune-in on July 22, 2021, at 1:00 PM on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LoneStarLegalAid.
#ICYMI – For Pride Month, we partnered with Catholic Charities of Dallas and Pride Houston to have a serious discussion on human trafficking in the LGBTQIA+ community. Our virtual outreach events have also featured subjects like LGBTQIA+ Protections Under the Fair Housing Act, LGBTQIA+ Issues, Serving Male Survivors of Sexual Assault, and more.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy for low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org
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