The Pentagon has announced that it will officially honor the contributions made by its now openly gay service personnel in its first ever celebration of June Pride Month.
Details are still being worked out, but officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to honor the contributions of gay service members.
“Now that we’ve repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ he feels it’s important to find a way this month to recognize the service and professionalism of gay and lesbian troops,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman.
This month’s event will follow a long tradition in the Pentagon of recognizing diversity in America’s armed forces. Hallway displays and activities, for example, have marked Black History Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
Not even a full year has past since the military’s 18-year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule was repealed. The rule prevented, under threat of discharge, gay soldiers from being open about their sexuality.
Earlier this year, military officials issued a statement confirming there has been no evidence of negative repercussions from allowing gay servicemembers to serve openly.
Equality is still not fully within grasp however because servicemembers in same-sex couples can’t yet access the military spousal benefits and rights that are afforded their heterosexual counterparts. This is because the Defense of Marriage Act bans the federal government, and therein the military, from recognizing same-sex marriages.
Also, while this Pride Month celebration will honor openly gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers, trans servicemembers still cannot be enumerated as they could be discharged under separate rules.
President Obama declared June to be Pride Month, kicking off a series of events including a White House Pride celebration.