Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
The Department of Defense and the Office of Diversity Management have added LGBT Pride Month as an annual observance to be celebrated by military and civilian members of the U.S. Armed Forces. During the month of June, all DOD personnel are encouraged to recognize the accomplishments of all members of its workforce and what this group of individuals has helped achieve by their service to the nation.
Speaking at a June 25, 2013 Pride Month event, the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense, then Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said, “We are proud that we are able to serve as part of the military, in or out of uniform, proud that we are able to contribute to this great mission of protecting our nation.”
In celebration of Pride Month, the Department of Defense and the Office of Diversity Management released the June Facts of the Day as follows:
- In honor of Pride month, the Library of Congress features works by notable LGBT writers such as Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, and Oscar Wilde; the manuscripts of the founder of LGBT activism in Washington, D.C., Frank Kameny; profiles of openly LGBT members of Congress such as U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis; the stories of many LGBT individuals and couples; and many other resources.
- Existing standards of conduct continue to apply to all service members regardless of sexual orientation. All service members are responsible for upholding and maintaining the high standards of the U.S. military at all times and in all places.
- All service members, regardless of sexual orientation, 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.
- LGBT Pride quickly spread beyond the borders of the United States. Pride events have been held on every continent except Antarctica, and in countries as diverse as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Greenland, India, Israel, Taiwan, South Africa, France, Poland, and the Netherlands. In 2003, Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country in which a Pride event was held when 30 people marched in Istanbul. By 2011, the Istanbul Pride event attracted 10,000 people.
- Sexual orientation is a personal and private matter. 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.
- On May 18, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage. The court ruled the prohibition of gay marriage was unconstitutional because it denied the dignity and equality of all individuals. In the following six years, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and Washington D.C. followed suit.
- The Department of Defense is committed to promoting an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible regardless of sexual orientation.
- On April 26, 2000, Vermont became the first state in the United States to legalize civil unions and register partnerships between same-sex couples.
- 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 being in the military.
- In June 2012, the Department of Defense held its first ever LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon, commending the service and sacrifice of gay and lesbian service members and LGBT civilian personnel.
- 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.
- In June 1970, the “Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day” march was held in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. A small crowd gathered in Greenwich Village and started marching, attracting hundreds and then thousands of supporters as it moved north through the streets of upper Manhattan and into Central Park. Similar events were held in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- Banned from federal employment in 1957 because he was gay, Franklin E. Kameny became an “angry archivist.” Not only did he protest his firing from the U.S. Army Map Service, he became the central figure in confronting the government’s policies against the employment of gays and lesbians, particularly in jobs linked to national security. He collected thousands of letters, government correspondence, testimony, and photographs. The Kameny Collection is perhaps the most complete record of the gay-rights movement in America.
- The changing face of the nation demands that we change. As the demographic make-up of the American population continues to evolve, it is imperative that the Department of Defense focus its efforts on emerging talent to ensure that we successfully attract, recruit, develop, and retain a highly-skilled total force capable of meeting current and future mission requirements.
- On April 28, 2014, the Pentagon released an update to the DoD Human Goals Charter, which for the first time included language related to sexual orientation in the section dealing with the military. The Charter, originally signed in August 1969, is the cornerstone document governing the Defense Department’s fair treatment of people, as well as its diversity and equity programs. Mention of sexual orientation is included in the Charter’s instructions on how to attain the stated goals, as well as in its desire to be “a model of equal opportunity” in civilian and military employment.
- The last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as Gay Pride Day. In major cities across the nation, the day soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, these events attract millions of participants around the world. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
- In striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court overturned a law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. The decision does not guarantee a right to same-sex marriage, but it allows people who live in states that allow same-sex marriage to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
- On January 13, 1958, in the landmark case One, Inc. v. Olesen, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the First Amendment rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) magazine “One: The Homosexual Magazine.” The suit was filed after the U.S. Postal Service and FBI declared the magazine obscene material. This ruling marked the first time the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of homosexuals.