Although official policy change is happening within the military branches, GLAAD says the Pentagon still has cultural blind spots in its inclusion of gay and lesbian troops that could keep the best and brightest troops from rising to the top.
"What we're hearing is that the right policies are in place in the military, but the culture has not caught up yet,” said Sarah-Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. " There is still not enough infrastructure or connectivity for those troops."
According to Military Times, Ellis hosted a military roundtable as part of GLAAD’s Southern Stories Tour, a six-state, seven-day examination of the problems still facing gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in America today , four years after the repeal of “don't ask, don't tell."
The 14 service members and military spouses talked with the LGBT activists after a dinner hosted by GLAAD and the American Military Partner Association in Pensacola, Fla., discussing problems in the ranks with group leaders. The idea was to provide a national platform for those concerns,and to hear firsthand their stories of service, sacrifice, and patriotism.
"It can all be very frustrating, because everything didn't change overnight," Air Force 1st Lt. Hope Cronin said, according to Military Times. "I feel as a service we've come so far in these last few years, but we still have a little further to go. There's still a gap."
Cronin, one of the airmen at the event stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Fla., was accompanied by her wife, Kathryn Trammell. Cronin joined the Air Force just days after the DADT repeal.
She said she has enjoyed support from her commanding officers and fellow service members, but feels the needed changes are inevitable, given leaders' focus on the issues. Ellis told her she wants to help keep pressure on those commanders to ensure they don't become complacent.
As The Advocate has reported, military officials are reviewing their rules regarding transgender troops and recruits, whose recognition lags far behind gay and lesbian peers.
The Air Force and Army have reviewed or updated rules for dismissing transgender troops, requiring higher authority and standards for the moves. But Defense Department policy still bars them from serving openly.