By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com June 24 2013 7:21 PM ET
After nearly a full day of speculation — and of a flurry of resignations — since a leaked email and emergency board meeting indicated that LGBT military advocacy group OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network asked its executive director, Allyson Robinson, to resign, both Robinson and the organization issued statements Monday afternoon. Those statements don't provide much additional information about how the leak occurred but do confirm that Robinson will continue in her role as executive director through the organization's upcoming leadership transition.
"This weekend’s events were most unfortunate and deeply troubling for many of us," wrote Robinson in a statement published at OutServe Magazine. "But for my part, as from the beginning of my tenure with this organization, I am fully and firmly committed to our LGBT service members, veterans, and their families and to their fight for equality. For that reason, and to honor those who’ve shared those values with me, it is my intent to continue to lead OutServe-SLDN in the near term as we approach an historic moment for our community and our country. After that, at a date to be determined, I have decided of my own accord to step down, and will work with our members to ensure an orderly transition to the next phase of this organization’s life."
Robinson, the first openly transgender leader of a national LGBT rights organization whose focus is not primarily transgender issues, was hired by OutServe-SLDN last October.
In a lengthy statement also published in OutServe Magazine, OutServe-SLDN claimed the organization is facing financial hardship and requires organizational restructuring, which prompted the issue of Robinson's removal.
"The board would like to clarify that the drafted item was only part of a series of discussions aimed at transitioning the organization in what has been a rapidly changing financial and political landscape facing the LGBT movement, which will soon include a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act," reads the statement.
Board cochair Josh Seefried, who some now-resigned board members said was rushing Robinson's firing through, stated his support for Robinson in the OutServe-SLDN statement.
"There is no excuse for the series of events that transpired this past weekend," said Seefried. "On behalf of the Board of Directors, I sincerely apologize for this as well as the impact it’s had on our staff’s and members’ trust and confidence in the organization. Allyson Robinson has led OutServe-SLDN as one of the most transformational leaders of this movement, and there is not a member serving on this board who does not respect and admire her work for this organization and the LGBT movement."
As news of Robinson's ouster broke, several OutServe-SLDN senior staffers and board members announced their resignations in protest. By midday Monday, Zeke Stokes, the director of external engagement, Gary Espinas, the director of chapter and member services, board member Sue Fulton, and OutServe Magazine board member Nathaniel Frank had all tendered formal resignations.