The Pentagon will host its first ever celebration of gays and lesbians in the military this month, which was recently proclaimed by President Barack Obama as LGBT Pride Month. The Pentagon's celebration comes nearly a year after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" banning open homosexuals from the military.
U.S. officials said on Thursday that "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta feels it's important to recognize the service of gays in the armed forces," The Associated Press reported, although no further details of the planned event were revealed. The celebrations will be a part of other ceremonies marking the contribution of racial and ethic groups.
The news comes a month after President Obama announced that he personally supports same-sex marriage, which has reinvigorated the marriage debate in the country, with many supporters of the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman voicing their concerns over such endorsements.
June is also identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, and it is the first time the Pentagon has participated and honored gay servicemen and women since it repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) Army policy back in Sept. 2011.
DADT was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, making it illegal for gay and lesbian service members to serve while being open about their sexuality. The September repeal made it legal for military personnel to be open with their sexual orientation without fear of being reprimanded.
A number of Christian groups, such as the Family Research Council, had urged the Pentagon to postpone the repeal, describing it as a "tool" to promote a social agenda.
"The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet, tomorrow, the U.S. military becomes a tool in reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality," said FRC President Tony Perkins. "Using the military to advance a liberal social agenda will only do harm to the military's ability to fulfill its mission."