Jun 27, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Los Angeles Times: WASHINGTON — A year ago, Marine Capt. M. Matthew Phelps might have been relieved of his command in San Diego if the military found out he was gay. On Tuesday, he stood in a packed Pentagon auditorium and openly discussed his sexuality.
“I happen to be gay, but more importantly, I’m a Marine,” Phelps said as heads nodded and murmurs of approval swept through the standing-room-only crowd of several hundred people.
For the first time in its straight-laced history, the Pentagon thus celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month, a stunning cultural milestone that officially recognizes what has always been true — that gays and lesbians serve inside its fortress-like walls and the rest of America’s armed forces.
The ceremony, which was broadcast on an internal TV network to U.S. military bases around the world, was sober and strict — from the rhythmic “hut, hut, hut” of the color guard marching into the auditorium, to pre-taped videos from President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and a panel discussion on “The Value of Open Service and Diversity.”
It was far from an outre gay pride celebration, like the Manhattan parade this month that one blogger said featured “dancing boys, granny boobs, marching bands, rainbow Storm Troopers, babies, feathers, pasties, thongs — heck, even a bunny in a hat.”
But if most of the Pentagon audience wore crisp military uniforms or conservative business suits, their joy was unmistakable. Several same-sex couples said they were attending their first Pentagon function together.