The U.S. military is embracing a celebration of homosexuals in the ranks this month by sending out a gay pride poster and a directive to commands, while planning a Pentagon symposium that will be attended by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
In the aftermath of ending the ban on open gays in the military, the Pentagon last June recognized Gay Pride Month for the first time in a subdued recognition of uniformed and civilian gays. As defense secretary at the time, Leon E. Panetta gave a public statement, and a Pentagon event featured an active-duty gay Marine, a gay Air Force civilian lawyer and a lesbian who had served in the Army.
Pride month is low-key again this year. The Pentagon has handed off planning for the event to DOD Pride, an organization of gay military and civilian employees. Directives that have been issued do not say commands must hold similar celebrations.
“Secretary Hagel looks forward to participating in this year’s DOD Pride event at the Pentagon on Tuesday, June 25 to celebrate LGBT Pride Month,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
“Secretary Hagel is also looking forward to welcoming [senior White House adviser] Valerie Jarrett to the Pentagon, who will represent President Obama in delivering the keynote address at the event,” Mr. Little said.
Local commands are passing the word.
At least one Marine Corps unit has sent out a message reminding troops of pride month. It includes a copy of a Pentagon-developed poster, titled “Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month June 2013.” The red, white and blue poster contains quotes from Mr. Obama’s statement on Sept. 20, 2011, the day the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy officially ended.
The Marine email says: “As we recognize Pride month, we thank all of our gay and lesbian service members, LGBT civilians, and their families for their dedicated service to our country. Before the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ they faithfully served their country with professionalism and courage. And just like their fellow service members, they put their country before themselves. And now — after repeal, they can be proud of serving their country, and be proud of who they are when in uniform.”
The Pentagon issued a gay pride directive May 31 to all troops via each branch’s personnel chief.
It says the Department of Defense “joins the Nation in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month during the month of June,” wrote Clarence A. Johnson, director of the Pentagon’s office of diversity management and equal opportunity to the military’s personnel chiefs.
“We recognize gay, lesbian and bisexual service members and LGBT civilians for their dedicated service to our country. During the month of June, I encourage our DOD personnel to recognize the accomplishments of all members of our workforce, and in doing so, we celebrate the significance of diversity in building a brighter future for all citizens.”
The military bans transgenders from joining the uniformed services but not its civilian ranks. The gay rights movement has petitioned the Obama administration to lift the transgender prohibition.
Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and an analyst at the Family Research Council, said personnel should not be forced to celebrate gay pride.
“Designating a special Pentagon month to celebrate homosexuality was a totally predictable outcome of the Obama administration’s radical agenda,” Mr. Maginnis said. “Gays are now a special military class that will be in your face, and those who disagree for readiness and/or moral reasons will jettison the armed forces. That’s, of course, what Obama radicals want, and evidently our service chiefs lack the courage to say, ‘Enough.’”
Allyson Robinson, who directs the pro-gay OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, applauded gay pride in the military.
“It is appropriate and gratifying that Secretary Hagel and his leadership team would follow the historic precedent set last year by then-Secretary Leon Panetta by honoring LGBT Pride Month at the Department of Defense,” Ms. Robinson said. “Acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members sends an important message all the way down the chain of command: that our military is stronger, and our nation safer, because it includes them.”
Mr. Obama issued a proclamation May 31 declaring June as Gay Pride Month, saying his “administration is a proud partner in the journey toward LGBT equality.”
On Sept. 1, the Pentagon plans to begin issuing military ID cards to the same-sex partners of military personnel. It will entitle them to scores of benefits, such as counseling and low-price commissaries, but not health care and housing benefits because federal law restricts those benefits to married, heterosexual couples.