U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Tuesday that the Pentagon has barred discrimination based on sexual orientation, making it a part of the category that includes discrimination based on race, color, religion, age and sex. Gay and lesbian service members of the U.S. military will be given every protection against discrimination with the military’s equal opportunity policy.
It is the first move after ending the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, a law that prohibited gays and lesbians from outing themselves during their service in the military, and if they did, they would be kicked out of the military service. The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was repealed after a nine-month study that determined that the risks of repealing it were low and manageable.
The new policy comes as the Pentagon celebrated Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride month, with a ceremony that was broadcast on a military TV network to bases all over the world. The news was announced by Ash Carter, who stated that this change will ensure that gay and lesbian troops who put forward a complaint about discrimination, will receive a thorough investigation by the Military Equal Opportunity program, the office that works with complaints based on race, religion, color, sex and origin. Until now, the service members that were discriminated could only register discrimination complaints with the inspector general offices.
According to Reuter, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that he belies in equal opportunity for everyone and that from now on the only thing to be evaluated is the contribution of the service members. He said “The Department of Defense has made a lasting commitment to living the values we defend, to treating everyone equally, because we need to be a meritocracy. We have to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense. This is a commitment we must continually renew.”
However, the discrimination against transgender people in the U.S. military still remains a question without any answers. Organization of LGBT military families are urging military leaders to provide equal rights for the entire LGBT community, because at this moment the transgender community is still not allowed to serve openly, with a high risk of getting kicked out.
Diversity is a crucial component to the future development of the troops and this will be ensured with the new policy of the military equal opportunity program, which will give troops all access to a variety of options to resolve the discrimination complaints. This new change in American politics comes in times when young people are more open and tolerant and the policy will attract only the best and the brightest who are ready to give their best service to the United States military. LGBT groups have applauded this decision, but have called for extension of the protection to transgender people as well.