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“Throughout our history, brave LGBT soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines have served and fought for our nation. Their readiness and willingness to serve has made our military stronger and our nation safer.”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter
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Navy Secretary Makes Remarks During Pentagon LGBT Pride Month Ceremony
Army Secretary LGBT Pride Month Message
Air Force Secretary's LGBT Pride Month Message
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Diversity in the military makes the force stronger, top Defense Department officials said at a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender panel discussion in Washington. Story
The policy that banned openly gay people from serving in the military was "insidious and morally wrong," and its repeal has led to a strengthened, more diverse force, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said at the Defense Department's event marking June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. Story
Declaring that “no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character,” President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Story
For LGBT service members and families, June serves as a month to celebrate progress in the path to full equality. Story
“During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.”
President Barack Obama
On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Proclamation No. 8387 for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. The President pointed to the contributions made by LGBT Americans both in promoting equal rights to all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and in broader initiatives. The President ended the proclamation by calling upon the people of the United States to "turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists."
On June 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7316 for the first Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. "This June, recognizing the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done, we observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and celebrate the progress we have made in creating a society more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians."
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month commemorates efforts to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for LGBT Americans. The Department of Defense has chosen "Celebration" as the theme for this year's observance. Diversity is one of our nation's greatest strengths. During LGBT Pride month, we celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equity.
"On December 22, 2010, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act became law. Certification occurred in July 2011, and full implementation of the Act occurred in September 2011. LGB military members can now serve openly, with honor and integrity."
Sexual orientation is a personal and private matter. DoD components, including the services, are not authorized to request, collect, or maintain information about the sexual orientation of service members, except when it is an essential part of an otherwise appropriate investigation or other official action.
"Effective March 27, 2015, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, extended coverage to all legally married same-sex couples to take FMLA leave to provide care for their spouse. In addition to serious health conditions of the employee, qualifying events include the care of a spouse or child with a serious health condition, and leave due to a spouse's covered military service."
In response to the historic decision to grant same-sex marriages nationwide in June 2015, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy read, "No longer may this liberty be denied. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they were."
In 1975, Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich was discharged from the service after he appeared in uniform on the cover of Time magazine along with the headline "I am a Homosexual." Matlovich, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, had his discharge upgraded from "general" to "honorable" after winning a case against the Air Force in 1979. In 1988, at age 44, he died of complications from AIDS and was buried with full military honors at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
"The Department of Defense has made a lasting commitment to living the values we defend -- to treating everyone equally -- because we need to be a meritocracy. We have to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matter most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense." -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter
"In 1978, Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag as a symbol of LGBT pride and social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. The rainbow flag consists of six stripes, with the colors red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (serenity), and violet (spirit). The flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow."
"As I've said before, we must ensure that everyone who's able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military's future strength depends on it." Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, on DoD Transgender Policy, July 13, 2015
Harvey Milk joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He served aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake as a diving officer. He later transferred to Naval Station San Diego to serve as a diving instructor. In 1955, he was discharged from the Navy at the rank of lieutenant junior grade. After serving in the Navy, Milk became a civil rights pioneer and activist, and in 1977 became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Frank Kameny, who served in World War II, and was a civil service astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service, was fired from the U.S. Army Map Service and banned from federal employment in 1957 because he was gay. He became the central figure in confronting the government's policies against the employment of gays and lesbians, particularly in positions linked to national security. His collection of thousands of pages of letters, government correspondence, testimony, photographs, and other memorabilia is perhaps the most complete record of the gay-rights movement in America.
"During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are." -- President Barack Obama
Anthony Loverde had been an Air Force staff sergeant for seven years when he was discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy after telling his commander that he was gay in 2008. He then worked as a military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he took part in the legal battle challenging the constitutionality of DADT. In May 2012, he reentered the Air Force as a staff sergeant, becoming the second person and first gay Airman to return to active duty since DADT was repealed.
"We recognize gay, lesbian and bisexual service members and LGBT civilians for their dedicated service to our country; the heroic contributions made by these Americans strengthen our national security. Whether officer, enlisted, civilian employee, or family member, their inclusion gives our Department greater promise and possibility." -- Clarence A. Johnson, director, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity
"It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions." -- Harvey Milk, activist
The Stonewall Inn in New York was infiltrated by police officers on June 28, 1969, for suspicion of serving alcohol without a license. New York's gay community had suspected the police were targeting gay clubs for a while, and broke out into a violent riot when the police began arresting employees as well as patrons. The number of protestors grew to over 1,000, and the riot lasted for hours. The Stonewall riots are largely regarded as the beginning of the LGBT rights movement.
On April 28, 2014, the Pentagon released an update to the DoD Human Goals charter, which for the first time included language relating to sexual orientation in the section dealing with the military.
The 2014 Human Goals Charter states, "Our nation was founded on the principle that the individual has infinite dignity and worth. The Department of Defense, which exists to keep the nation secure and at peace, must always be guided by this principle. In all that we do, we must show respect for the serviceman, the servicewoman, the civilian employee, and family members, recognizing their individual needs, aspirations, and capabilities."
An estimated 75,000 people participated in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in October 1979, demanding equal civil rights and urging the passage of protective civil rights legislature.
"Every generation of Americans has brought our nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all." -- President Barack Obama, June 1, 2012
On December 22, 2010, the President signed legislation that led to the repeal of DADT.
In October 2009, the Matthew Shepard Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The measure expanded the 1969 U.S. Federal Hate Crime Law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Matthew Shepard was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998 because of his sexual orientation.
Speaking at a June 25, 2013, Pride Month event, the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense, then Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said, "We are proud that we are able to serve as part of the military, in or out of uniform, proud that we are able to contribute to this great mission of protecting our nation."
The last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as Gay Pride Day. In major cities across the nation, the day soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, these events attract millions of participants around the world. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
In August of 2012, Army Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith became the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States Army. She was promoted in a ceremony at Arlington at which her wife, Tracey Hepner, pinned the star onto her uniform. Her promotion came less than a year after the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management joined our partners at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit System Protections Board, and the Office of Special Counsel to release an updated guide titled "Addressing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employment Rights, Protections, and Responsibilities."
In June 2015, President Barack Obama said, "During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are."
Diversity and inclusion are readiness imperatives; we rely on our diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise to enable us to address the complex challenges of the global security environment.
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