entagon pride event held despite Trump's transgender military ban





Washington - By Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe,- The Pentagon on Monday recognized the contributions of LGBT service members and civilians to national security at an annual ceremony held despite attempts to ban gays, lesbian and transgender people from the US military.



 
The DoD Pride LGBT event has been held each June during national Pride Month since 2012. One of the featured speakers, Major Jamie Lee Henry, the Army's first openly transgender active duty officer, called Pride Month and the event "a celebration of our shared humanity."
The theme of Monday's ceremony was "personal courage," and leadership awards were presented to Douglas Wilson, the former assistant secretary of defence for public affairs, and Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann.
Wilson, who received the civilian award, played a key role in the Pentagon for the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" - a policy instituted by the Clinton administration barring openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from service in the US military. He said the policy restricted the military, which "reflects the society in which we live."
Dremann, who has served 11 deployments and is the current president of a national LGBT advocacy organization that focuses on transgender military service, received the military award for his service.
"Transgender service members are some of the most resilient service members you'll ever meet," said Dremann.
Speakers at this year's event challenged a new policy, announced by President Donald Trump in March, that bans most transgender people from serving in the US military. The new policy was announced after Defence Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen concluded that people with gender dysphoria "present considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality."
Neither Mattis nor any of the other senior officials of the Department of Defence attended the ceremony.
Representative Anthony Brown of Maryland called for the US Supreme Court to repudiate the new policy and others like it.
"It's important that President Trump gives transgender servicemen, transgender Americans, the same rights as any other person," he said.
Brown likened the current struggle of transgender US service members to the historical struggles of female and African American servicemembers.
"The fight for equality has never been easy," he said. "This is a nation that sometimes falls short of our ideals but always manages to overcome."

 


Monday, June 11th 2018
By Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe,
           


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