Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed on September 20, 2011 and less than a year later, the US Army has named its first openly gay flag officer, Brigadier General Tammy Smith. On Sunday, August 12, 2012, Gen. Smith was promoted during a private ceremony at the women’s memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. After spending much of 2011 in Afghanistan, Gen. Smith has been named deputy chief at the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve. Her wife and partner of more than a decade, Tracey Hepner, pinned the star to her lapel during the ceremony. Hepner is more of an activist than Gen. Smith, co-founding the Military Partners and Families Coalition in 2011.
Activists are quick to point out that Gen. Smith is most likely not the military’s first gay flag officer, however she is the first one to serve openly. They are quick to call Gen. Smith a “role model,” and marking that history has been made. Gen. Smith, on the other hand, is merely focused on her promotion and the responsibilities that come along with it.
In an article for Stars & Stripes, Gen. Smith (then a Colonel) spoke to them using a pseudonym saying that she didn’t plan to reveal her sexuality to her colleagues, but was pleased that she didn’t have to fear separation from the military because of it. In a statement released by the Defense Department she still considers her sexuality a very private matter, but “participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader.”
Photo courtesy U.S. Army
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