An exposé of the fight to end a controversial policy
Discharged in 2002 from the US Army under the provisions of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Alexander Nicholson was shocked to learn there was no group advocating DADT’s repeal that was reaching out to active military or veterans organizations. Nicholson believed the repeal effort needed spokespersons who understood military culture, who could talk about DADT’s impact on those who serve to those who serve and served. Someone like him. From this idea Servicemembers United, the largest organization for gay and lesbian servicemembers, was born. Nicholson and several others who had been discharged under DADT toured the United States, where they spoke at American Legion posts, on radio talk shows, and at press conferences across the South and on both coasts. Surprised at the mostly positive reception that the tour provoked, Nicholson and Servicemembers United were propelled to the forefront of the DADT repeal fight. In time Nicholson became the only named plaintiff in the successful lawsuit that ordered the policy overturned, forcing the US Congress to act. Fighting to Serve gives a no-holds-barred account of the backstage strategies and negotiations, revealing how various LGBT organizations, the Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House often worked at cross purposes. But in the end, it was the pressure brought by active veterans, a court ruling out of California, and a few courageous senators, representatives, and military leaders that brought the destructive policy to an end.
"[Nicholson] stood on the frontline of this battle and his dedicated and unflinching service to our nation was the very sort that our military needs most. He is living proof that a soldier needs no rank or uniform to fully serve his country with utmost integrity. In war, any leader needs an accurate depiction of the ground level situation. [Nicholson] reports a valuable perspective in the battle against Don't Ask Don't Tell, translating the details into priceless lessons for our civil rights movement. He was trained to translate, and this book is an example of the very best translation a leader could want." —Lt. Dan Choi
"[Nicholson] provides a rarely seen look at how activist organizations tirelessly work to build delicate alliances in Washington. . . An intriguing look at gay activism inside the Beltway." —Kirkus
"Nicholson opens a window on the world of issue advocacy politics, providing keen insight into a realm of political operations that generally occurs out of the public view while offering a working model of a successful movement." —Publishers Weekly
"Former Servicemembers United founder Alexander Nicholson gives an insider's look at the multi-year effort, all in a surprisingly approachable manner. His own military story would have been reason enough for a book, but thankfully we now have a fascinating—and important—look at history, too." — Instinct Magazine
"Don't read this if you don't want to see how the sausage is made." — Outsmart