Taking a step back for a moment, it’s almost hard to believe how much progress there’s been in the U.S. military when it comes to gay rights.
For example, right about now, the Defense Department is hosting a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month event in the Pentagon Auditorium. Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson will deliver a speech, which will be followed by a moderated panel discussion entitled, “The Value of Open Service and Diversity.”
This would have been hard to fathom just a few years ago.
There’s also this event on the calendar.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the organization which fought against the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for years, is hosting an event celebrating the repeal of the law headlined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
The event, “Celebrating Our Heroes,” will be held on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City on Sept. 18, days ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 20 repeal.
“This historic and emotional event presents a unique - indeed, a once in a lifetime - opportunity to reinforce the meaningful part that Admiral Mullen played in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal process,” Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “No one played a more pivotal role than Admiral Mullen in securing the support of Congress and the military for repeal.”
All of this comes just two weeks after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta celebrated Pride day by thanking LGBT servicemembers – and their families – in a video posted online.
This, of course, is how it should be, and years from now, it’ll probably seem quite odd that I’m impressed by how much progress there’s been. But for now, it’s worth appreciating how far we’ve come (and how wrong Sen. John McCain and other Republicans were to fight this progress every step of the way).