On the morning after the one-year anniversary of the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act and on the eve of the 45th anniversary of New York's Stonewall riots, about 50 service members representing all five branches of the U.S. military, along with members of the U.K. military and civilian contractors, gathered to recognize the Department of Defense's LGBT Pride Month at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, June 27.
On May 31, the DoD released an official memorandum announcing it would join the nation in celebrating LGBT Pride Month.
"The LGBT community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story by reminding us that integrity and respect remain corner stones of our military and civilian culture," the memo read.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Aaronchristian Abreu, 24, a hospital corpsman, joined fellow deployed service members to organize the pride observance at Camp Leatherneck.
"As an openly gay service member, the pride observance means a lot," said Abreu. "It is celebrating and recognizing that our gay, lesbian, and bisexual brothers and sisters who can now serve freely without the fear of reprisal due to their sexual orientation. Recognizing the LGBT community shows that we are setting the example to our civilian counterparts and that we do not discriminate. We welcome everyone to our organization and value the diverse talents and skills that they have regardless of their national origin, race, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation."
The hourlong program began with a dual rendition of the National Anthem sung by U.S. Marines 1st Lt. Skye Martin and Lance Cpl. Aubrie Hepler. There followed a reading of President Obama's LGBT Month Proclamation and a selected top 10 list of historic LGBT moments.
Here are photos from the hour-long event.
As service members bowed their heads, U.K. Chaplain Squadron Leader Alex Hopson delivered the invocation. "You have broken down barriers. You have made rainbows dance in our eyes. You have offered us dreams that reach for the galaxies. You have awakened the long craving for love," said Hopson.