The Washington Post

Panetta comes out for gay troops

In a video released moments ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thanked gay and lesbian servicemembers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civilians and their families for their service and dedication to this country. This is a first that could not have happened without the full repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011. And lifting the 18-year ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military couldn’t have happened without President Obama’s determination get it done the right way.

As we recognize Pride month, I want to personally thank all of our gay and lesbian  service members, LGBT civilians, and their families for their dedicated service to our country.  

Before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage. And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself. And now — after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are when in uniform.

The pursuit of equality is fundamental to the American story.  The successful repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” proved to the Nation that just like the country we defend, we share different backgrounds, different values, and different beliefs — but together, we are the greatest military force in the world.

It also reminds us that integrity and respect remain the cornerstones of our military culture.  The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force implemented the repeal with a focus on respect and individual dignity. As Secretary of Defense, I am very proud of how we implemented repeal.  

Going forward, I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity, to ensure all who are qualified can serve in America’s  military, and to give every man and woman in uniform the opportunity to rise to their highest  potential.

Diversity is one of our greatest strengths.  During Pride month — and every month — let us  celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equality for all.

It’s about time the sacrifices of out servicemembers, civilians and their families were recognized and applauded. Kudos to Panetta for his public display of gratitude.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans