(Arlington, VA) Former Army Colonel Tammy Smith has become the first openly gay flag officer to come out while currently serving in the U.S. military. She was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in a private ceremony which took place today at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. BG Smith received her stars from her wife, Tracey Hepner.
"For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers. It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country," said Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate and member of the OutServe Board of Directors.
Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis praised Smith's leadership and encouraged others would follow her lead.
"It is indeed a new era in America's military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time. Brigadier General Smith made history today - not only as an exemplary service member who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor - but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance. This day was long overdue, but I have no doubt more senior enlisted and officers will follow BG Smith in stepping forward smartly with their spouses and loved ones," he said.
Smith is assigned as deputy chief in the Army Reserve Office of the Chief in Washington, D.C.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.
ABOUT OUTSERVE: OutServe is the association of actively-serving LGBT military personnel. With more than 5,500 members and 50+ chapters worldwide, it is one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world. OutServe works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.