#LGBTmilitary

Defense Department Refuses To Officially Acknowledge Pride Month

For the first time in six years, senior Pentagon officials have not formally acknowledged LGBTQ Pride Month.

Ever since the misguided ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was repealed in 2012, the Pentagon has issued an official memo which served as an official endorsement of Pride Month and effectively encouraged local events.

A former senior Obama administration official, speaking off the record, told The Washington Post, “It makes it known that there’s an authorization, that there’s support.”

But this year, there was no memorandum issued for Pride. So the assumption must be that there is no support.

That said, there was an event held at the Pentagon on Monday by DoD Pride, the LGBTQ employee group at the Defense Department. However, unlike previous years no high-level department officials showed up to address the crowd.

According to The Washington Blade, the tension at the DoD event was “palpable” as folks were keenly aware of the elephant in the room - President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members. 

Even though the policy proposal is held up in four federal courts, LGBTQ military service members are wary.

Maj. Jamie Lee Henry, staff internist and a transgender active duty physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, spoke at the event calling Pride a time for “celebration of our humanity, our resilience and our bravery,” but referenced the worries the transgender military ban has stirred.

“I am not a stranger to the dark,” Henry said. “Recent events had me think a lot about experiences that I’ve gone through over the last five years.”

In another sign of lagging support, the Defense Department’s Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity’s web site lists event-specific posters designed for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Dr. Martin Luther King Day. But nothing for Pride Month.

So, DoD had to create its own poster.

When asked why there was no official declaration this year, Pentagon spokewoman Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason sidestepped the question.

“The Department of Defense supports diversity of all kinds across our military and we encourage everyone to celebrate the diversity of our total force team,” said Gleason. “We value all members of the DOD total force and recognize their immense contributions to the mission.”

This is also the second year that Donald Trump’s White House failed to acknowledge Pride Month.

There were presidential proclamations to recognize June as Great Outdoors Month, National Ocean Month, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, and National Homeownership Month, but no presidential proclamation for Pride Month.