With OutServe-SLDN in financial ruin, we deserve the rest of the story

I’d written a week ago about the turmoil over at the nation’s premiere “gays in the military” group, OutServe-SLDN.

For reasons yet not fully disclosed, the board of directors apparently had been discussing whether to fire, or ask to resign, relatively-new Executive Director Allyson Robinson.  That fact was leaked by Robinson’s defenders, then all hell broke loose.

Some local chapters threatened to break off from the main organization, and three members of the board of directors resigned in protest (though the rest stayed on).  And now, several chapters are reportedly demanding that the entire board be fired, and replaced with a board more to their liking.  All the while, none of the blame is being placed on Robinson herself.

At the same time, Robinson’s advocates are now suggesting that she was fired because she’s transgender, though they’ve offered no further explanation for why they believe this. Bilerico has a letter that Robinson’s defenders sent to the board on June 29.  In it, they repeatedly raise the trans issue, and then ask the following question :

The reputation of OutServe-SLDN has now been irreparably damaged by the lack of communication immediately following the initial leak and the failure to directly address the question – “Was she fired because she is transgender?”

At first blush, it would seem odd for an organization to hire an openly-trans person as its executive director, only to nine months later fire that same person for being trans.  If OutServe-SLDN were that anti-trans, you’d think they would simply not hire a trans ED in the first place.  But, you never know, so let’s explore this line of argument a little further.

Allyson Robinson SLDN ED

Allyson Robinson, new
executive director of OutServe-SLDN

If OutServe-SLDN’s board were firing Robinson for being trans, then surely there is no independent, legitimate reason the board might have had for questioning Robinson’s stewardship of the organization.  But of course, we now know that one such reason does exist, even though the leakers hid it from us until now: under Allyson Robinson’s stewardship OutServe-SLDN is now, for all intents and purposes, bankrupt.

Running an organization into bankruptcy is certainly grounds for considering whether the executive director should leave.

Of course, we don’t know if Robinson was responsible for OutServe-SLDN’s financial quagmire.  Mostly, because no one but Robinson’s defenders are leaking to the blogs and the media, and they didn’t even tell us that the organization was in financial trouble in the first place.

We don’t know, for instance, if SLDN was already in monetary trouble when Robinson got there. It must be difficult fundraising for an organization that’s “already won” from the perspective of many prospective donors.  And even if the finances already were in trouble, we don’t know the extent of the problem, whether the financial situation worsened under Robinson’s tenure, how she responded to the looming financial crisis, and whether she kept the board fully informed of the problem.  Perhaps she was the hero of an already sinking ship. Or perhaps she sunk the ship. The board of directors knows the truth, and Robinson herself knows the truth, but no one is as of yet leaking those details, which go to the very heart of whether her dismal was being considered because of her gender identity or because of fiscal mismanagement.

What we do know is that a little over one month ago, on May 21, 2013, OutServe-SLDN’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Francisco “Pancho” Ramirez resigned.  And in his letter of resignation he praised the entire board of directors and former SLDN leaders Dixon Osborne and Aubrey Sarvis.

The person Ramirez did not mention in his mysterious letter of resignation?  Executive Director Allyson Robinson.

I suppose it’s possible that Ramirez, too, was part of the alleged anti-trans conspiracy.  Though if Ramirez were anti-trans, why wouldn’t he attempt to force Robinson out rather than sacrificing his own job at the organization?

Or, perhaps, the fact that the CFO of a major organization resigned, one month before it is revealed that the organization is bankrupt, has something to do with why the board of directors was talking about asking the executive director to leave.

Sometimes people get fired because they’re gay, or bi or trans.  And sometimes they get fired because they deserve it.  At this point, only Allyson Robinson’s defenders are talking publicly.  And we know they’re not telling us the whole story.

It would behoove OutServe-SLDN to come clean and tell us what happened – the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  And let the chips fall where they may.  Because this one-sided whisper campaign is destroying what was once two great organizations.  The whispering needs to stop.  It’s time for the truth.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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