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“Before the repeal … you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage,” Mr. Panetta said. “And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself.

“And now, after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are when in uniform.”

Respect and diversity

The gay-rights movement is applauding the recognition.

“This historic declaration confirms the message that the military supports all service members and civilian employees, based on their merit,” said Josh Seefried, an Air Force officer who co-directs, a gay-rights group for military personnel.

“This is a tribute to our core military values: respect and integrity. If there is any remaining doubt that the military has executed [the] repeal with excellence, and that LGBT people are serving our country with honor, Secretary Panetta has firmly put that to rest. This is leadership directly from the top.”

Asked whether he knows of gay pride events scheduled on bases, Lt. Seefried said: “Various pride events have been happening with participation from different levels. We’ve chosen to mainly organize them to coincide with pride events at cities, marching in parades, booths, get-togethers.”

During the ban, OutServe was a secretive group of gay service members. Since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, it works in the open, has established local chapters and organizes a national conference.

Elaine Donnelly, who runs the Center for Military Readiness and opposed the repeal, said that forcing the military to celebrate gays is “entirely inappropriate.”

“Now we have a secretary of defense who is forgetting that our military does not exist to promote ‘diversity,’ as defined by the LGBT Left,” she said. “Gay pride events are divisive and entirely inappropriate in the military, an institution that encourages shared values and selfless sacrifice, not separatist factions and pressure groups demanding special status and benefits.

Pentagon officials should support the majority of men and women in the military, instead of helping President Obama to score political points with the LGBT Left.”