Army’s First Openly Gay General Is Good for America

army helmetsHistory was made this week when a woman became the first openly gay general.

One year after President Obama repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, Tammy S. Smith was promoted to brigadier general at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a proud moment for the 26-year Army vet, who no doubt shocked some onlookers by having her wife participate in the ceremony.

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Tracey Hepner pinned the star on her partner's uniform. “Participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader,” Smith said in a statement. It was an amazing moment -- not just for Smith, but for every homosexual person in the military. So many still feel they have to keep their private lives in the shadows.

We all know that the general, who wed Hepner in March 2011, isn't actually the first gay, high-ranking official. She is just the first one who had the courage to live her life openly. Though, I am sure there were risks in doing so. She could have lost friends, supporters, or had her career stalled because of her sexual preference. Fortunately, that didn't happen.

Perhaps this will encourage others to do the same. Not that they won't endure some sort of discrimination from their peers. They may face harassment and nasty comments for years to come. But Smith represents a very important hurdle for all of those enlisted men and women who are scared to be themselves.

It also provides an example for the country as well. My hope is that seeing openly gay men and women fighting for our country will somehow make people realize this group deserves the same rights and freedoms they are risking their lives for.

Are you surprised there is now an openly gay general?


Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr

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