For the first time in six years, the Department of Defense did not release a memo marking LGBT Pride Month. The Pentagon also declined to send a high-ranking staffer to emcee an unofficial Pride celebration thrown by a DOD LGBT group, reports The Washington Post.
The retreat of support is not a surprise as the Trump administration has demonstrated animus toward LGBT people since the president's inauguration last year. The Defense Department, led by Secretary Jim Mattis, is also trying to put into effect Donald Trump's ban on transgender troops, which is currently tied up in the courts.
The Defense Department officially acknowledged Pride Month starting in 2012, a year after President Obama signed a bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and paved the way for LGB troops to serve openly. The Obama administration also moved to lift a ban on trans service members back in 2016, but Trump reversed that effort with a tweet.
A memo on Pride Month was much more significant than a mere press release; it encouraged personnel to throw local LGBT events and telegraphed the administration's support of LGBT troops, putting the queer community on par with other minority groups the department acknowledges, like women, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans.
With the DOD pulling support, the Pentagon's LGBT group had to design its own promotional posters for its Pride party, something the Pentagon's design office previously did. At the Pride event, held Monday, no high-level DOD staffer offered remarks, though Democratic Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown headlined the party.
"The refusal to officially acknowledge Pride Month this year is deeply troubling, and whoever made the decision to break with this important tradition should be ashamed," American Military Partner Association president Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement.
"This lack of official support emboldens those within the military who want to silence our families and push us back into the closet. The thousands of LGBT service members and their families who had to serve in silence in the past, sacrificing far more than should ever be asked, deserve better than to be treated this way. Despite this shameful lack of leadership, we encourage LGBT service members, their families, and allies around the world to hold pride month observances on their local installations again this year, helping to highlight the importance and strength of diversity, the obstacles we have had to overcome, and the pride we have in service to our great nation."