Fighting To Serve: Behind the Scenes in the War To Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

. October 2012. 288p. 978-1-61374-372-0. 26.95.
From his unique perspective, Nicholson (founder & executive director, Servicemembers United) offers a firsthand account of his involvement in the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy regarding military service. He was discharged under DADT and went on to play a central role in every effort to repeal the discriminatory policy. He claims that those most affected by DADT—active-duty gay and lesbian soldiers—were represented by advocacy groups, lawyers, and others unfamiliar with military culture. Believing that these representatives met with resistance from military leaders opposed to outside interference, and that they lacked legitimacy before lawmakers, Nicholson founded what became the largest organization for LGBT service members, as well as the first to use discharged and retired military personnel as advocates. The author does a fine job of recounting his and his organization’s involvement with seeking the repeal, including the organizing of cross-country speaking tours, meeting with military and American Legion leaders, and participating in radio debates with calls from listeners. He also provides a sometimes humorous behind-the-scenes glimpse at how a grass-roots advocacy group is founded, the “sausage-making” of legislation, and the turf battles among advocacy groups.
VERDICT Recommended for political scientists, LGBT advocates, and members of the military.

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