Secretary of Defense chuck Hagel has announced that he will speak at a Pride event this month honoring LGB servicemembers. This will mark the first time that a defense secretary has attended a Pride gathering for the Pentagon.
George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, informed the Washington Blade that “Secretary Hagel believes that the open service of gays and lesbians make our armed forces stronger and that this month’s DOD Pride event is just one way we honor what these service members and LGBT civilians do for our country.”
President Barack Obama will not be attending; however, and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett will be delivering the keynote address on behalf or the President. President Obama held a Pride gathering at the White House this past weekend.
It was not until 2010 that the Defense Department first recognized Pride Month. That came after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2011, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivered a video address.
Hagel’s nomination to be Defense Secretary had many LGBT advocates nervous and upset because of some homophobic remarks he made back in 1998. He has subsequently apologized for them and made it clear that he supports the LGBT Community, especially those employed by or serving in the military.