Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced Tuesday morning that there would be some big changes to the Military Equal Opportunity policy to reflect gay and lesbian servicemen and women.
The Department of Defense has updated the Military Equal Opportunity policy so sexual orientation will for the first time be included and will ensure everyone – no matter the race, religion, color, sex, age and national origin – be treated equally to maintain a more inclusive environment.
“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,” Carter said during the LGBT Pride Month Ceremony at the Pentagon auditorium. “We need 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.”
The new face of the military should be one that reflects the “rich diversity” of America because there is no place for discrimination in America’s armed forces, the defense secretary said. He said embracing inclusion is key to recruiting and retaining those in the arms forces, especially with young Americans who “are more diverse, open, and tolerant than past generations.”
“Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that have allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so,” Carter said.
While Carter acknowledged the inclusivity of the military, he also said the DOD would provide benefits as well as recognize those who are same-sex spouses of military members.
This September will mark the four-year anniversary of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly in the armed forces.