On Tuesday Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense would add sexual orientation to its equal opportunity policy, putting discrimination based on sexual orientation on the same footing as discrimination based on religion, gender, or race. Notably missing from Carter’s announcement however was a statement on transgender service-members.
While detailing the “critical” need for the military to “start from a position of inclusivity, not exclusivity,” however, the defense secretary made no direct mention of the other big issue pending for attendees of the LGBT pride month event at the Pentagon: out transgender military service.
“We need to be a meritocracy,” Carter said at the event. “We need to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense. This is a commitment we must continually renew.”
To that end, he said, the Defense Department has “completed the process for updating its military equal opportunity policy to include sexual orientation, ensuring that the department, like the rest of the federal government, treats sexual orientation-based discrimination the same way it treats discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, age, and national origin.”
Carter added, “Discrimination, of any kind, has no place in [the] Armed Forces,” saying that discrimination based on sexual orientation is “bad defense policy.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cdr. Nate Christensen expanded on what the development will mean for out service-members:
“With this policy revision, we are now ensuring that servicemembers are afforded protection against discrimination in the Department’s military equal opportunity program, provided to all military members. Along with command channels and the IG, servicemembers will now be able to use the Military EO process, just like DoD civilians are able to use civilian EEO programs to resolve discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation.”
Watch a news report on the policy announcement, below: