On Tuesday Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon will include LGBT troops in its equal opportunity employment protection policy. The announcement ends the long campaign to include sexual orientation in the Defense Department's protection from discrimination, which already includes race, sex and religion.
Carter said that the Pentagon has "completed the process" to ensure that LGBT employees are not discriminated against and have the proper channels of investigation if there is a complaint. He also noted that there have been efforts to guarantee that LGBT families receive equal benefits. "Discrimination of any kind has no place in America's armed forces," Carter said.
Carter announced the development at the Pentagon's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride event after rumors about the change swirled earlier this month. Carter is the first defense secretary to speak at the event, which coincides with LGBT pride month, since it began at the DOD in 2012.
He said at the event:
According to The Washington Blade, the change came about after a year long internal review of the Pentagon's Military Equal Opportunity Policy. According to the paper, the efforts to make the change were waning until Army Under Secretary Brad Carson took his position in April.
In late May, a group of bipartisan senators wrote to Carter asking him to implement protections from discrimination for LGBT troops. The letter from the 23 senators praised steps like the 2011 repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, but urged the Pentagon to take do more to protects its LGBT troops.
Still, there was no mention of specific protections for transgender military personnel. According to USA Today, the military can still oust transgender troops, but in the Army and Air Force, senior civilian officials must approve the dismissal, adding an additional hurdle to potential discrimination.
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