Advancments in Acceptance For the LGBT Military Community
Photo via kerriana_w
This past weekend, two movements showed that people in the military and the government are making great strides to include people who fall into the LGBT spectrum.
DC’s Capital Pride Parade this weekend featured Brigadier General Tammy S. Smith as the Grand Marshall for the event. According to SDGLN.com, along side her was Lynda Carter, Super Grand Marshall. Smith was deemed the first openly gay flag officer in the United States Military when, in August 2012, her wife Tracey Hepner placed the general’s star on her shoulder. This took place less than one year after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was repealed.
Tammy getting Pinned by wife Tracy via The Examiner
Smith has an impressive list of awards and decorations, and they include The Bronze Star and a set of senior parachutist wings. Being such a decorated and knowledgeable part of the military made it that much more important that she was chosen to be the Grand Marshall of the DC pride parade. In an interview in 2013, Smith said, “Leadership is about being a role model. I don’t think I’m a role model because I’m gay. I believe I’m a role model because I adhere to Army values by being true to my authentic self.”
Her participation in the parade was very well received by those in attendance, as well as by the parades executive director, Ryan Bos. “We are honored to include Brigadier General Tammy S. Smith as one of our Grand Marshals for 2013,” said Bos. “She exemplifies the meaning of a superhero and her story is a great example of the progress made following the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.”
Another heartwarming story is that of U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). On Saturday June 8, Israel proposed a legislation to rescind dishonorable discharges that were given to gay members of the military in order to ensure that they received the proper respect that they deserved then, and most certainly still deserve now. According to LGBTQNation, If this legislation were to be enacted, gay members who received a dishonorable discharge would have their discharge changed to honorable, and would also be given the appreciation and benefits that are owed to them.
Israel gave this announcement at the Long Island Pride Parade in Huntington NY. Alongside him was Robert O. Hawkins, a World War II veteran who was given a dishonorable discharge because of his sexual orientation. “I would have been an admiral by now,” Hawkins was reported as saying by WCBS-TV. “They said, ‘We have proof you are a homosexual, and you can either resign your commission or face a court martial,’” Hawkins continued. “I resigned. I had no choice, really.”
Thousands of men and women in the military have been given dishonorable discharge due to their sexual orientation, even during the times of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and Israel’s legislation would work towards righting that wrong.
Update: August, 22nd 2013 Earlier this week Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced to a 35-year sentence after a long and controversial trial regarding leaked classified information. Manning has now come out in a personal statement, given to The Today Show, saying she wishes to be referred to as Chelsea Manning and with feminine pronouns. “As [...]August 22, 2013
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