Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith became the first openly gay flag officer in the U.S. military, giving the gay rights movement its most senior public military figure.
Smith was promoted during a ceremony Friday in Arlington, Va., and she has been assigned as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve She spent much of 2011 serving in Afghanistan, according to Stars and Stripes
The Pentagon’s ban on openly gay service members ended in September.
She also publicly acknowledged her sexuality for the first time, making her the first general officer to come out as gay while still serving, according to Stars and Stripes.
“All of those facts are irrelevant,” Smith told Stars and Stripes. “I don’t think I need to be focused on that. What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries.”
Flag officers are commissioned military officers who are entitled to fly a flag marking their command.
“Brigadier General Smith made history today — not only as an exemplary service member who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor — but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in a press release.
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