The U.S. Army has officially announced its first openly homosexual general, Tammy Smith, less than a year after the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law was repealed.
"All of those facts are irrelevant," Smith told Stars and Stripes, the Defense Department's semi-official newspaper, regarding her sexual orientation.
"I don't think I need to be focused on that. What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries," she added.
Smith, an Army reserve officer, was appointed to a brigadier position on Friday, Aug. 10 at an auditorium at Arlington's Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Virginia. The event was attended by 70 people, including her partner of over a decade, Tracey Hepner.
Hepner, in traditional military fashion, pinned the insignia of the Army Brigadier position on one of Smith's shoulders, while her father pinned a second insignia on her other shoulder.
"Participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader," the Defense Department said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
Smith is the first openly gay general to serve in the U.S. military since the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" federal law was officially dropped on Sept. 20, 2011.
Conservative groups contested the repeal of the law, saying that the repeal was "self-serving" on behalf of President Barack Obama, who they claimed was trying to gain approval and subsequently votes from the LGBT community.
When the repeal passed U.S. Senate in December 2010, the Family Research Council called the move a "self-serving" disregard for U.S. soldiers.
Others argued that the repeal could pose as a violation of religious freedom for chaplains and service members who find the practice of homosexuality to be against their religion.
"The first official casualty of this hurried vote may well be the religious freedom of chaplains and service members," said Daniel Blomberg, litigation counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund in a statement on Dec. 20, 2010, as previously reported by The Christian Post.
Smith has served a 26 year career in the U.S. military, spending significant time in Afghanistan and Costa Rica.
As the first duty of her new position, Smith has already been assigned as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve.