Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been an active supporter of LGBT equality since taking office.
He released the following statement concerning the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act:
The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.
Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.
Hagel also paid tribute to gay members of America’s armed forces during a celebration of Pride month at the Pentagon on Tuesday. It is the second year that the Pentagon has held such an event following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Highlights from Hagel’s speech include:
Gay and lesbian service members and LGBT civilians are integral to America’s armed forces.
Our nation has always benefited from the service of gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen, and Marines. Now they can serve openly, with full honor, integrity and respect. This makes our military and our nation stronger, much stronger.
We’re very proud of everything the gay and lesbian community have contributed and continue to contribute. With their service, we are moving closer to fulfilling the country’s founding vision, that all of us are created equal.
It has never been easy to square the words of our forefathers with the stark realities of history. But what makes America unique, what gives us strength is our ability to correct our course. Over more than two centuries, our democracy has shown that while it is imperfect, it can change, and it can change for the better.
Our commitment to equality requires us to continue building a culture of respect for every member of the military, our society, and for all human beings.
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