The Army’s 1st openly gay, married general
By JONATHAN WOLFMAN
For anyone earning and receiving a promotion, particularly in highly visible work, having one’s husband or wife involved in the ceremony can be very sweet. Imagine, then, your pride when you’re, now, the first openly gay United States Army general and the person pinning your general’s star on your uniform is your legal spouse. That’s precisely the pride felt last week by Brigadier General, Tammy S. Smith who over a year ago married her partner, Tracy Hepner, co-founder of Military Partners and Families Coalition. That organization gives, its web site says, “support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender military partners and their families.”
While there may well be gay and lesbian men and women in our service branches who have earned this level of rank and responsibility, Brigadier General (and higher), Tammy Smith is the first to be frank, publicly, about being a homosexual since ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ was justly ditched on 20 September, 2011.
The new brigadier general’s service includes a year’s deployment as a colonel in Afghanistan. She now serves as the deputy chief of the Army Reserve, stationed in Washington, DC (where her marriage took place). Her colleages say they are certain Brig. Gen. Smith’s superiors knew she was gay when they offered her the promotion.
I’m delighted with this ‘first” because once we have these “firsts,” and in so many professional and social arenas, the issue itself largely becomes normalized, becomes moot. One day affixing promotion pins on the uniforms of gay and lesbian generals by their husbands and wives will be routine, and we’ll be a better, stronger nation for it, as we already are given this good, small step.
Jonathan Wolfman blogs at http://open.salon.com/blog/jlw1.
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