US

Dems Seek Answers On Defense Department Not Recognizing Pride Month

Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Eight House Democrats on the Armed Services Committee wrote a letter Thursday demanding to know why the Department of Defense has not issued a memo in recognition of LGBT Pride Month.

“We write to express our concern that Pentagon leadership is backing away from supporting and celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members and Department of Defense (DoD) employees. The fight for dignity and inclusion for LGBT individuals in our Armed Forces should remain a steadfast priority for the Department of Defense,” read the letter, organized by Rep. Anthony Brown and addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis.

“The absence of demonstrative support from DOD leadership at events like these can have the effect of isolating our LGBT service members and employees,” they wrote.

“The Department of Defense cannot and must not retreat when it comes to ensuring Americans’ ability to share in our country’s promise, nor when it comes to truly living up to our founding ideals.”

Leaders at The Pentagon have declined to formally acknowledge the observance of pride month for the first time since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a ban on homosexuals openly serving in the military, was repealed in 2011 during the Obama administration.

Every year since, including last year during President Trump’s first year in office, the Pentagon has distributed a memo at the beginning of June officially recognizing LGBT Pride Month, effectively supporting Pride Month’s observance.

“It opens the door for LGBT service members, civilians and their allies on military bases to hold events recognizing Pride Month without having to ask for special permission or an exception,” said a former senior Obama administration official.

All of the official observances for 2018 are listed on the Defense Department’s Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity website where the corresponding posters and memos are publicized. Included are Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, Holocaust Days of Remembrance, Women’s History Month, Black History Month, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

As a result of Pride Month not formally being recognized, the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity did not issue materials to mark the occasion.

Along with Rep. Anthony Brown, those who co-signed the letter included Democratic Reps. Robert Brady, Susan Davis, Jackie Speier, Beto O’Rourke, Donald Norcross, Ruben Gallego and Salud Carbajal.

Follow Hillary Silverman on Twitter