Today, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month at a #DoDPride celebration held at the Pentagon.
“Today’s event was an incredibly important celebration of diversity and the strength that it brings to our nation’s Armed Forces,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack, who attended the event with other AMPA military families. “But while it was a time to celebrate the tremendous progress we’ve made within the Department of Defense, it was also a stark reminder of the work we still have to accomplish for full LGBT equality in the military. The continued delay in lifting the ban on open service for transgender service members is frustrating and deeply disappointing for so many of our families. It’s been almost a year since Secretary Carter made the historic announcement that the Pentagon would lift the ban, yet transgender service members and their families are still in limbo. These heroes have earned the right to be able to serve as their authentic selves, and we must ensure that happens.”
The DoD first started observing June as LGBT Pride Month in 2012, following the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). At this year’s event, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus gave remarks, and Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Patrick Murphy and Admiral Mike Mullen were honored for their leadership in the fight for LGBT equality in the military. The families of AMPA were also proud to provide the cake for this year’s event.
Secretary Carter also released a statement this year in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, saying, “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.” Read his full statement here.
In July of last year, Secretary Carter made history with an announcement that the DoD would finally update the outdated regulations that prevent open service by transgender service members and would take six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details. The working group started with the presumption that “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.” Unfortunately almost a year later, those critically important changes have still not yet been made.
In June of 2015, the American Medical Association approved a resolution saying there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”
In March of 2015, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving. The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member and their family.” There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving.
Check out the Department of Defense LGBT Pride Month website here.