A Full 180

Pentagon Pride Includes New Head Of Air Force

Just five years ago, the idea of Pentagon Pride would have seemed ludicrous, like gay-supportive Republican. (Well, that last one is still pretty outlandish.) But on Tuesday, the Pentagon officially recognized its lesbian and gay service members at an event that included the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. and Valerie Jarrett, special advisor to the President. Hagel, who has been working hard to live down his own unsupportive past, praised lesbian and gay troops and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. “Now they can serve openly, with full honor, integrity and respect,” Hagel said. “This makes our military and our nation stronger, much stronger.”

Just to prove the point about the extent of the changes that have occured, also on hand at the event was Eric Fanning, the openly gay acting chief of the Air Force. Fanning became the civilian head of the service branch last week with the retirement of his boss, Michael Donley. Fanning is the highest ranking openly gay official in the Pentagon. In an interview with the Washington Blade, Fanning said he would like to see the military codify nondiscrimination measures and also remove its prohibition on transgender service members. “Wherever we can root out discrimination, I think it’s a positive thing,” he said. Who’d have thought we’d ever be hearing that rhetoric from a gay man at the Pentagon?

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force