Nine months after gays, bisexuals and lesbians were allowed to serve openly in the military, the Pentagon plans to honor them with a gay pride month celebration.

For the first time, the Pentagon will mark gay pride month just as it marks other events honoring racial or ethnic groups, Defense Department officials said.

Officials declined to give details about the event, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes it’s important to recognize the service of gays in the armed forces.

Under the 1993 law, gay, lesbian and bisexual troops were prohibited from disclosing their sexual orientation or speaking out about any such relationships while they served in the military, or they would be forced to leave the service. More than 13,000 lost their jobs.

The ban on serving openly was official U.S. policy until Sept. 20, 2011.

Congress repealed the policy in December 2010, but it remained in place through a court challenge that ultimately upheld the repeal. Military leaders also were given time to determine that the repeal would not hurt military readiness.

The Pentagon posted a video on its Web site Friday morning from Panetta, thanking gays and lesbians for their service and congratulating the military on a smooth implementation of the repeal.