#Anti-LGBTQ

Defense Department Refuses To Officially Acknowledge Pride Month

For the first time in six years, senior Pentagon officials have not formally acknowledged LGBTQ Pride Month.

Ever since the misguided ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was repealed in 2012, the Pentagon has issued an official memo which served as an official endorsement of Pride Month and effectively encouraged local events.

A former senior Obama administration official, speaking off the record, told The Washington Post, “It makes it known that there’s an authorization, that there’s support.”

But this year, there was no memorandum issued for Pride. So the assumption must be that there is no support.

That said, there was an event held at the Pentagon on Monday by DoD Pride, the LGBTQ employee group at the Defense Department. However, unlike previous years no high-level department officials showed up to address the crowd.

According to The Washington Blade, the tension at the DoD event was “palpable” as folks were keenly aware of the elephant in the room - President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members. 

Even though the policy proposal is held up in four federal courts, LGBTQ military service members are wary.

Maj. Jamie Lee Henry, staff internist and a transgender active duty physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, spoke at the event calling Pride a time for “celebration of our humanity, our resilience and our bravery,” but referenced the worries the transgender military ban has stirred.

“I am not a stranger to the dark,” Henry said. “Recent events had me think a lot about experiences that I’ve gone through over the last five years.”

In another sign of lagging support, the Defense Department’s Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity’s web site lists event-specific posters designed for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Dr. Martin Luther King Day. But nothing for Pride Month.

So, DoD had to create its own poster.

When asked why there was no official declaration this year, Pentagon spokewoman Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason sidestepped the question.

“The Department of Defense supports diversity of all kinds across our military and we encourage everyone to celebrate the diversity of our total force team,” said Gleason. “We value all members of the DOD total force and recognize their immense contributions to the mission.”

This is also the second year that Donald Trump’s White House failed to acknowledge Pride Month.

There were presidential proclamations to recognize June as Great Outdoors Month, National Ocean Month, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, and National Homeownership Month, but no presidential proclamation for Pride Month.

Oklahoma's Governor Signs First Anti-LGBTQ Law Of 2018

America - 2018 was doing pretty well when it comes to new legislation and the LGBTQ community. No new state bills attacking the community had been signed into law this year.

Until now.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin has put her signature on Senate Bill 1140 which effectively legalizes LGBTQ discrimination by faith-based adoption and foster care agencies which receive public funds.

This is the first new anti-LGBTQ law in the United States in 2018. What a dubious achievement.

The new law makes it legal to deny placing children in LGBTQ homes based on “religious objections.” Simply declaring a religious or moral opposition to same-sex marriage would allow a faith-based agency the legal right to refuse to place a child in same-sex homes.

The legislation could also withhold child placement with single or divorced people if their social status were to offend an adoption agency’s religious beliefs.

LGBTQ advocates quickly criticized the new law.

“It is shameful that Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a patently discriminatory law that targets children,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “Gov. Fallin has cemented her legacy, siding with discrimination and the legislature in throwing kids under the bus to create a ‘license to discriminate’ against LGBTQ Oklahomans.”

And Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, issued a statement which read, in part: “While we are deeply disappointed that Governor Fallin choose to sign discrimination into law, we are more concerned about the children – desperately looking for homes – that will be harmed by this disgraceful legislation.”

“Our message to Governor Fallin, and the lawmakers who championed this travesty is simple: we’ll see you in court!” added Stevenson.

Supporters of the new law say these faith-based agencies will have to shut their doors if forced to place children into LGBT homes.

Currently, five states - Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and North Dakota — have similar laws on the books, although Michigan’s law is being challenged in the federal courts thanks to the ACLU.

Kansas’s governor has a similar anti-LGBTQ adoption bill waiting on his desk.