Two US gay military groups have announced they are to merge under a new name.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe announced today that they would unite to represent LGBT troops and veterans. The change is expected to take place in October.

SLDN board of directors co-chair Mike Magee said: “SLDN has enjoyed a close working relationship with OutServe and its leaders from the beginning. Indeed, their voices, though anonymous at the time, were an integral part of the fight to repeal the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.

Josh Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe, said: “Since repeal, we’ve worked even more closely together and in doing so, it has become more and more clear that our shared mission – representing actively serving military and veterans, as well as fighting to achieve full LGBT equality in the military – is better accomplished by uniting the two organisations and working together as one on behalf of the brave men and women of our armed forces.”

He added: “This comes down to mission first, just as it always is in the military. Both of these organisations recognize that they are stronger and more effective together.”

OutServe began as a network for actively-serving LGBT military personnel and was launched during the fight to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy. It now has more than 5,000 members worldwide and recently held the first US military gay convention.

SLDN was founded in 1993 as a free legal advice service for LGBT servicemembers suffering discrimination or harassment. It continues to call for repeal on the ban on trans military personnel.