It appears that OutServe-SLDN is having a bit of a civil war going on. Reports are that the OS-SLDN board of directors has asked that Reverend Allyson Robinson, the executive director of the group, to resign. This has led to several senior staffers and at least one board member resigning in protest.
The details are slowly leaking out in a war of words type deal with Captain Sue Fulton (ret.) accusing Lieutenant Josh Seefried of having rushed the vote through and board manipulation. For his part, Seefried has largely said ‘no comment’ saying “We can’t talk right now. We have some internal issues to deal with first, then will be updating the community.”
Fulton’s stated“I cannot comment other than to say I was one of the board members who resigned.” She also said on Facebook “I am upset that this got out, but more upset that it happened. I was one of those who resigned from the Board. Sad, sad days. I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS support the lgbt troops. Mission over politics.”
Robinson has not commented either, only telling BuzzFeed “It would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.” There were no advanced warnings about this occurring, though anyone who has worked with the organization for a long time may have noticed a few things in their press releases.
Zeke Stokes, the director of external relations from OS-SLDN, wrote in an email that ended up in the hands of the media that:
My entire professional life, I have maintained a motto: “Work Hard, Be Nice.”
So I will not betray that now. Instead, I will say that it has been the great honor of my career to serve our nation’s brave LGBT service members, veterans and their families. I could never have imagined when I accepted this position, that people like Charlie Morgan would enter my life and make such a profound impact on me.
Today, the Board of Directors made decisions that have compromised the trust I had placed in it heretofore. They have chosen a direction that is inconsistent with what I believe is necessary to secure a successful future for the organization. In doing so, they have for the foreseeable future sacrificed the viability of the mission.
For that reason, I can no longer represent OutServe-SLDN to the public or to our members and donors. Thus, effective today, I have resigned as a member of the staff and wish to no longer be affiliated with the organization.
For the rest of my life, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve our nation’s LGBT military community; however, the actions of this board are not worthy of their service and sacrifice. I choose to honor them with my resignation effective today.
Stokes is one of the people that most reporters had contact with in OS-SLDN.
In addition to Fulton and Stokes, Gary Espinas, the director of chapter and member services, and David McKean, legal director, tendered their resignations. McKean will stay on the job until his legal commitments have been fulfilled. McKean stated “It would be inappropriate for me to comment on yesterday’s events. But while I share Zeke’s conclusion, at this time I will remain with the organization to determine how to resolve matters related to client representation in accordance with legal ethics rules and requirements.”
An email that Fulton sent to Seefried and to board member Katie Miller reads:
I was a member of the OS-SLDN Board yesterday, and I did NOT vote to ask Allyson to resign. Neither did Shannon. Matthew Phelps and Beth Schissel did not have the opportunity to vote either. Did you even ask for a roll call? On a decision like this?
You cannot characterize this publicly as a “unanimous” vote of the Board. If you do so, Board members will speak publicly to deny that they voted for it. The details of who was in the room and who wasn’t when you rushed this vote through will not support your case.
Fulton attempted to get the vote delayed for two weeks, but was unsuccessful.
With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, OutServe and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Networks merged. Reverend Robinson became the first openly transsexual head of a non-trans* based advocacy group.
It is unclear what prompted the ouster of Robinson.
Or appear that it has happened at all. John Avaros over at AmericaBlog claims that Robinson hasn’t been fired or asked to resign.
Reports are that Beth Schissel and Matthew Phelps, both board members, have also resigned from their positions. Apparently the former head of Servicemembers United has weighed in, but since no one liked him anyway, there doesn’t seem much point in paying attention to him. He had nothing to do with either group.
Americablog has since gotten word from Sue Fulton regarding the entire incident. Apparently she tried to buy time to get Robinson the time to get out of the group graceful. According to an email she sent, Fulton said “I propose the establishment of a Committee that we would delegate to meet with Allyson with the following proposal:’This isn’t working out, we’d like to work together on a transition plan that has you resigning…’” She added comment to Avaros’ story saying “The second email from me was an effort to craft a motion that gave Allyson until July 12, rather than the motion on the floor that wanted her terminated immediately. I would not have wanted the email to get out. It was part of the agonizing process of trying to keep the Board from acting recklessly. I failed.”
Still no word as to exactly why this happened.