In a historic moment for the Department of Defense, the LGBT community, and the entire nation, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recognized LGBT pride month this morning with a video message thanking LGBT soldiers for their service, and celebrating the successful implementation of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." The Secretary’s short, to-the-point speech celebrating pride month is a huge first for the Department of Defense, an organization that not long ago barred gay and lesbian service members from revealing their sexual orientation.
Secretary Panetta’s speech focused on integrity and respect, which he said are the “cornerstone of our military culture,” and he said that it was with these principles in mind that the Department of Defense implemented "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." In his speech, he recognized that gay and lesbian service members can finally be proud of who they are when in uniform, and that he remains committed to making America’s military a model of equal opportunity. The Secretary spoke eloquently about the diversity of our armed forces and of all of America, saying, “Just like the country we defend, we share different backgrounds, different values, different beliefs, but together we are the greatest military force in the world.” He closed his momentous speech by calling for a celebration of our country’s rich diversity, in pride month, and every month.
Watch this significant moment in our nation’s history now here.