ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Defense on Thursday announced it will soon hold its first ever “pride” event to recognize gay and lesbian service members.
A spokesperson for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told LGBTQ Nation that the Secretary issued instructions to Pentagon officials to mark the celebration of Pride Month.
Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Panetta feels it’s important to recognize the service of gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces.
While declining to give details about what the event will be, the Pentagon said it plans to will salute its gay and lesbian service members, just as it marks other celebrations honoring racial or ethnic groups.
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“We’ll share specific details as they are finalized,” Lainez said.
President Barack Obama, in his proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride Month, acknowledged that this is the first time U.S. service members could participate in pride month celebrations since last September’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibited openly gay service members
“Because we repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans can serve their country openly, honestly, and without fear of losing their jobs because of whom they love,” the President said, in his proclamation.
In a report to Congress released in May, Panetta noted that since the repeal, there had been no impact on morale, unit cohesion or readiness. Critics of the repeal had claimed that there would have been significant detrimental affect on the armed services especially during wartime.
Since its inception in 1993, more that 13,500 members of the U.S. armed forces were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”