For six years, the Department of Defense (DoD) recognized diversity within the department and encouraged LGB service members and LGBT civilians to visibly serve.
For six years, DoD officially acknowledged LGBT Pride Month, starting a year after President Obama repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell.
For six years, DoD released a memo marking June as LGBT Pride Month encouraging personnel to hold local LGBT events and telegraphed the administration’s support of LGBT troops, putting the LGBT “community on par with other minority groups the department acknowledges, like women, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans.”
For six years, DoD marked Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in June with events around the world.
For six years, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) designed LGBT Pride Month posters “recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans…[calling] upon the citizens of the United States to eliminate prejudice and celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”
The last LGBT Pride Month poster one can find at the DEOMI web site is the June 2017 poster, below.
In June 2018, The Advocate reported, “With the DOD pulling support, the Pentagon’s LGBT group had to design its own promotional posters for its Pride party, something the Pentagon’s design office previously did.”
For six years, DoD published special reports to celebrate the event. Today, when one goes to the DoD “LGBT Pride Month” page (lead image), one can see past stories and posters, but also the message, “You have reached a collection of archived material. The content available is no longer being updated and may no longer be applicable.”
Those words, “no longer applicable,” perhaps inadvertently tell the sad truth.
That is because this year the Department of Defense did not release a memo marking LGBT Pride Month, nor did the State Department send out an official cable with guidelines for marking Pride Month, nor did Pompeo attend the State Department’s annual Pride Day event.
This year, “the State Department began rejecting all embassy requests to hoist rainbow flags outside the mission buildings during LGBTQ Pride Month,” according to the Washington Post.
In April, the military began enforcing Trump’s restrictions on transgender troops serving in the military. While the rules are not as draconian as had been feared, they still drew criticism from Democrats and civil rights advocates who “decried the change as bigoted.”
According to the Washington Post, some claim the Trump LGBT policies to be “a death by a thousand cuts.”
Others have decided not to even discuss “LGBT issues publicly and risk the consequences of drawing attention to themselves.”
“We fly below the radar,” one employee told the Post. “We survive because they don’t realize we’re here.”
Not the way to live in “America the Beautiful…[where] God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood”.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.