A married gay Army general introduced his spouse at a Pentagon event attended by many of the military's top brass, during an event to mark a new era of gay rights in the military, The Washington Times reported.
"My husband, Lucas, is sitting up front here," Brig. Gen. Randy Taylor said of the man in the same row as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Army Secretary John McHugh, and other senior officials.
He said Lucas had sacrificed elements of his own career to support frequent moves over the 18 years they had been together.
"We bet everything on my Army career," Gen. Taylor said.
Taylor served 27 years in the service during which there was an outright ban on gays, then a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and finally a lifting of the ban in 2011 to allow gays to serve openly, the Times reported.
Taylor was the master of ceremonies for the Pentagon's Fourth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride event at which Carter announced that gay and lesbian troops would, for the first time, be protected from discrimination by the service's equal opportunity policy, USA Today reported.
"Discrimination of any kind has no place in America's armed forces," Carter said, adding that the military needs "to be a meritocracy."
"Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that [has] allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who's able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so," he said. "And we must start from a position of inclusivity, not exclusivity."
The change will mean that complaints about discrimination based on sexual orientation will be investigated by the Military Equal Opportunity program, which is also the office that investigates other forms of discrimination such as race, religion, color, sex, age and national origin.
"With this policy revision, we are now ensuring that service members are afforded protection against discrimination in the department's military equal opportunity program, provided to all military members," said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, according to USA Today.
Before the change in policy, gay and lesbian troops were forced to register discrimination complaints with inspector general offices.
The change in policy, however, does not apply to transgender soldiers, the LA Times reported,
and LGBT groups called on military leaders to extend the protection so that they, too, could serve openly.
"It's incredibly important to note that we absolutely cannot leave our transgender service members behind," Ashley Broadway-Mack, the group's president, said in a statement, according to the LA Times. "We again urge Secretary Carter to also order a full and comprehensive review to update the outdated regulations that prevent transgender service members from serving."
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