Today, the Washington Blade broke the news that “the Pentagon is preparing to update its Military Equal Opportunity policy to include sexual orientation as a protected class and the change could be made final as soon as the end of next month.” The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, praised the news and urged Secretary Carter to take further action for transgender service members.
“This is incredibly important and welcome news for our service members and their families,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “This long overdue and critical change to the military equal opportunity program will help ensure that LGB service members are treated fairly with the dignity and respect they deserve. We again urge Secretary Carter to also order a full and comprehensive review to update the outdated regulations that prevent transgender service members from serving openly and honestly. It’s just as important to our LGBT military families that these same protections be extended based on gender identity.”
AMPA has long advocated for these important changes to be made. Most people assume that with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in September 2011, the LGBT community achieved full equality in the military. But the repeal only applied to LGB service members, and it meant that they could serve openly without fear of being discharged. It did not, however, mean they were provided access to the military equal opportunity program in order to address harassment or discrimination. The repeal failed to include binding non-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members in the military equal opportunity programs. The repeal of DADT also did not change the outdated regulations that continue to prevent transgender service members from serving openly and honestly.