Military's Attitude Change Means Gays & Lesbians Will Soon Serve Open & Proud

gay us military“We have to focus relentlessly on the mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to it.” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said this yesterday in a speech announcing that the Military Equal Opportunity Policy would be updated to protect members of the armed services from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.


It's been nearly four years since the repeal of the 2011 "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the military policy that kept gay and lesbian service members in the closet. Now, not only can they serve openly, they can also expect to be valued and promoted according to their contributions as service members, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Carter says this policy is keeping up with the more open-minded views of Americans. "Discrimination of any kind has no place in America's armed forces," he said. "Young Americans today are more diverse and tolerant than past generations. It's the only way to compete in the 21st century."

That's amazing news for gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the armed forces. For that matter, it's great news for all of us. We all benefit from the service of our best and brightest.

However, the new policy does not address transgender service members. In fact, the military's medical policies still consider transsexualism and cross dressing to be "psychosexual disorders." That means the estimated 15,000 active duty transgender service members must remain in the closet.

Hopefully that will change, but that change is coming slowly. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force announced this year that they would streamline the way they decide whether to allow transgender service members to continue their employment.

Still, it's exciting to see the armed forces making another important move to include more of the people who want to serve our country. Carter is right: When it comes to the military, what matters most about you is what you can contribute.

Do you think the U.S. military will allow transgender people to serve openly and without discrimination?


Image © LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters/Corbis

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