Andy Blevins JD/MBA ’19 has given public talks before, but none compare to the one he’s about to present at Harvard Law School.
A vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights who has significant military experience, Blevins is participating in a panel titled, “Do Ask, Do Tell, Do Justice: Pursuing Justice for LGBTQ Military Veterans.” He is the first Willamette law student to be invited to the two-day Harvard summit, which aims to identify key legal issues and solutions for LGBTQ veterans.
He says, “This is a validation of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
In addition to being a joint law and MBA student at Willamette, Blevins is director of law and policy operations at OutServe-SLDN, a national legal organization that represents the LGBT military and veteran community. OutServe-SLDN is also credited for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the former federal policy that barred open service of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.
Previously, Blevins served in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician and was an advisor-at-large for the Military Family Advisory Network. Last year, he was named runner-up for the National LGBT Bar Association Student Leadership Award. Blevins’ leadership on Willamette law publications and other off-campus organizations also made him a good fit for the Harvard panel.
At Harvard, Blevins will join nationally recognized legal experts and lawyers who will discuss the history of discrimination against generations of LGBTQ service members, as well as the difficulties service members continue to experience today.
Blevins says he will cover topics including the proposed transgender military ban by President Trump, which OutServe-SLDN is taking action against.
Is he nervous for the talk?
“No — this is my passion. This is my bread and butter,” he says. “I love that people are interested in it.”
Blevins has given several talks over the years, mostly at smaller universities, as well as cultural competency sessions to educators, members of the military and government officials. He’s also been a city commissioner and vice chairman for the commission on human rights and relations in Salem. In June, he and his husband, Kai, will be the featured speakers at Blevins’ biggest event yet — New York City Pride week.
Blevins is excited about the upcoming Harvard talk, but life isn’t stopping for this event. The only thing he’ll enjoy outside of the panel is a lunch with Harvard’s president; the rest of the time he’ll be studying in his hotel room.
“It’s finals week,” he says. “But I felt like I couldn’t pass this up.”