Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says he is proud to call the LGBTQ members of the Armed forces his “teammates” every month.
“I know that you’re especially proud this month and rightfully so. I’m proud too, proud every month and every day to call you my teammates and to serve alongside you,” said Austin.
“Your lives and your careers and your service and your stories are living proof that we are stronger and more effective together.”
Austin’s comments came during a speech to mark the 10th Annual LGBT Pride Month Celebration at the Pentagon.
This also comes after the Pentagon announced earlier this month that it will maintain an existing policy that bars “unofficial flags” from being flown at U.S. military bases and will not make an exception for the rainbow-colored Pride flag that represents the LBGTQ community.
“Our work isn’t done until we create a safe and supportive workplace for everyone, free of discrimination, harassment and fear,” said Austin.
“Because nobody should have to hide who they love to serve the country that they love. And no service member who is willing to put their life on the line to keep our country safe should feel unsafe because of who they are.”
The Defense Department held its first event 9 months after the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed.
Before the repeal, gay troops could serve but couldn’t reveal their orientation.
If they did, they would be discharged. At the same time, a commanding officer was prohibited from asking a service member is he or she was gay.