It’s mid-June, but (as FOTM’s Dave would say) dayem, we’re just finding out that the United States Military is celebrating the month of June as Gay Pride Month!
Pauline Jelinek reports for The Associated Press, June 15, 2012, that in a remarkable sign of a cultural change in the U.S. military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that with the repeal last year of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military, gays and lesbians can now be proud to be in uniform.
“Now you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are,” Panetta said.
Panetta’s video message was part of a Pentagon salute to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender troops as the Pentagon joined the rest of the U.S. government for the first time in marking June as gay pride month.
It comes nine months after repeal of the policy that had prohibited gay troops from serving openly and forced more than 13,500 service members out of the armed forces.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was in force for 18 years, and its repeal was a slow and deliberate process. President Obama on Dec. 22, 2010, signed legislation repealing it. Framing the issue as a matter of civil rights long denied, Obama said, “We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot … a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal.”
Before the repeal, gay troops could serve but couldn’t reveal their orientation. If they did, they would be discharged. At the same time, a commanding officer was prohibited from asking a service member whether he or she was gay.
Basic changes have come rapidly since repeal; the biggest is that gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines no longer have to hide their sexuality in order to serve. They can put photos on their office desk without fear of being outed, attend social events with their partners and openly join advocacy groups looking out for their interests.
OutServe, a once-clandestine professional association for gay service members, has nearly doubled in size to more than 5,500 members. It held its first national convention of gay service members in Las Vegas last fall, then a conference on family issues this year in Washington.
At West Point, the alumni gay advocacy group Knights Out was able to hold the first installment in March of what is intended to be an annual dinner in recognition of gay and lesbian graduates and Army cadets. Gay students at the U.S. Naval Academy were able to take same-sex dates to the academy’s Ring Dance for third-year midshipmen.
The U.S. military will hold a gay pride event — the first of its kind — on June 26 in the Pentagon. It will feature remarks by Jeh Johnson, the top Pentagon lawyer, as well as a panel discussion of the value of gay service and diversity, with gay and lesbian service members participating.
Ever on the cutting edge in service to our readers, Fellowship of the Minds obtained this exclusive.
The Pentagon’s special gay pride event on June 26 promises a surprise performance by a very special duo:
Don’t miss this special event! Hurry! Get your advance tickets now!
H/t FOTM’s beloved Anon & Hardnox