Homosexuals in the Department of Defense won’t be able to strut their stuff quite as freely this year, but it’s not the result of a president who thinks the military has more important things to do than celebrate its members’ sexual tastes.
Instead, blame it on the coronavirus pandemic that the Pentagon won’t be hosting a celebration recognizing June as Pride month.
It’s the first time since repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowed gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve openly in the armed forces that the gala has been canceled since it began in 2012 under the Obama administration.
A Pentagon spokesperson said in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade that the annual event was cancelled, and DOD Pride — a group for LGBTQ service members and civilian Defense Department staffers — confirmed it was due to COVID-19.
“Each year since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we’ve gathered in the Pentagon to celebrate and honor the contributions that LGBT service members and DOD civilians make to national security each and every day,” said Rudy Coots, president of DOD Pride. “That’s why we’re so disappointed that, due to COVID-19, we’ve had to cancel this year’s DOD LGBT Pride event.”
In years past, the annual event — which began in 2012 – allowed LGBTQ service members and Pentagon employees to gather to celebrate Pride and hear featured remarks from senior defense officials.
Speakers during the Obama years included former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first open homosexual confirmed to that post. The events continued through the Trump administration, even though President Trump instituted a ban on transgenders in the military. Last year, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) spoke at the Pentagon Pride event and slammed Trump’s anti-trans policy.