The Department of Defense (DoD) has joined the Office of Diversity Management and the nation in recognizing June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Our U.S. Navy is committed to fostering an actively inclusive environment that values the diversity of its force, and recognizes that service members and civilians achieve optimal performance when each and every member of One Navy Team is treated with dignity and respect.
Initially established as “Gay and Lesbian Month” by a Presidential Proclamation in 2000, DoD personnel are encouraged to recognize the talents, skills and contributions of the LGBT community and what this group of individuals has helped achieve by their service. Their contributions to our Navy Team are an invaluable component that comprises our diverse fighting force. The U.S. Navy is committed to recruiting and retaining top talent regardless of race, class, sex or background. A varied, inclusive environment allows diversity of thought and innovation to thrive.
Even though this inclusion is relatively new to the U.S. Navy, we should not depart from the belief that all Sailors, regardless of sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. On that same note, existing standards of conduct continue to apply to all service members. We are all responsible for upholding and maintaining the high standards of the U.S. military, at all times and in all places.
All service members are entitled to an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that prevent them from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible. Harassment or abuse based on sexual orientation is unacceptable and will be dealt with through command or inspector general channels.
These preferences are personal and private matters. DoD components, including the services, are not authorized to request, collect or maintain information about the sexual orientation of service members, except when it is an essential part of an otherwise appropriate investigation or other official action.
Some important dates leading up to and regarding DoD’s recognition of LGBT Pride Month:
On December 18, 2010, the U.S. Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, ending the 17-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
On July 6, 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the government to stop enforcing the terms of the law that prevented openly gay service members from serving in the military. The repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act created a landmark for our country's service members, allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces.
Although LGBT Pride month was established in 2009, nine years after Gay and Lesbian Month, it was not until 2012, the DoD held its first ever LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon. This event commended the service of gay and lesbian service members as well as LGBT civilian personnel. This was a result of the LGBT movement being strengthened by the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act.
When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, sexual orientation was not included as part of the MEO program. On June 8, 2014, a DoD Directive was signed to include sexual orientation as part of the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) program. Now, discrimination cases based on sexual orientation will be considered along with race, color, religion, sex or national origin as part of the MEO program.
To remain the finest seagoing fighting force the world has ever known, the Navy needs men and women who are the right fit for the right job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or gender identity. Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the most qualified and capable service members.
On such individual with a calling to serve our nation with tremendous valor is someone you may have heard of: Kristen Beck, a.k.a. the Warrior Princess. Beck served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEALs before her transition, taking part in 13 deployments, including seven combat deployments. Beck completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training with class 179 in 1991 and subsequently served with SEAL Team 1. She was also a member of SEAL Team Six, and received multiple military awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she wanted to be a SEAL because they were the "toughest of the tough.”
Beck retired from the Navy in 2011 with final rating as Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator when she began transitioning by dressing as a woman. In 2013, she began hormone therapy, preparing herself for sex reassignment surgery. Today she is a leading advocate for the LGBT community.
Beck single handedly demonstrated to the world that one should never doubt the courage, capability, or mental and physical fortitude of the LGBT community. A lot was asked of Beck during her time serving our nation, and a lot was delivered by her.
The constantly changing face of our Nation demands that we continue to evolve as well. As American demographics continue to change, it is imperative that the DoD focus its efforts on emerging talent to ensure that we successfully attract, recruit, develop and retain a highly-skilled force capable of meeting current and future mission requirements.
Diversity and inclusion are readiness imperatives. We rely on our diverse backgrounds, perspectives and expertise to help us address the complex challenges of the global security environment.
For the latest information on transgender policy, refer to NAVADMIN 070/19.