Pentagon honoring gay troops for pride month – US news – msnbc.com

Last summer, gays in the military dared not acknowledge their sexual orientation. This summer, the Pentagon will salute them, marking June as gay pride month just as it has marked other celebrations honoring racial or ethnic groups.

In the latest remarkable sign of change since the military repealed the “don’task,don’ttell” policy, the Defense Department will soon hold its first event to recognize gay and lesbian troops. It comes nine months after repeal of the policy that had prohibited gay troops from serving openly and forced more than 13,500 service members out of the armed forces.

Details are still being worked out, but officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to honor the contributions of gay service members.

“Now that we’ve repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ he feels it’s important to find a way this month to recognize the service and professionalism of gay and lesbian troops,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman.

This month’s event will follow a long tradition at the Pentagon of recognizing diversity in America’s armed forces. Hallway displays and activities, for example, have marked BlackHistoryMonth and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

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 whether he or she was gay.

via Pentagon honoring gay troops for pride month – US news – msnbc.com.

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Sen. Hatch, other leaders defend DOMA with friend-of-the-court brief | Deseret News

Sen. Orrin Hatch and nine other senators filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday defending the Defense of Marriage Act in a constitutional challenge to the law before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Richard Shelby, R-Ala. and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. joined Hatch in the brief. All of the senators voted for DOMA in 1996. At the time, the legislation passed the House 342-67 and the Senate 85-14, before being signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the stated goals of DOMA could not pass muster under a heightened scrutiny test or a lower “rational basis” threshold.

White concluded that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex married couples. He cited “animus against gay men and lesbians within the legislative history of DOMA,” and his 43-page rulingdismissed Congress’ stated governmental interest in defending and nurturing traditional marriage, defending traditional notions of morality and preserving government resources.

White suggested that prejudice may have motivated DOMA’s passage, quoting the Board of Trustees of University of Alabama v. Garrett, saying, “Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.”

via Sen. Hatch, other leaders defend DOMA with friend-of-the-court brief | Deseret News.

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