With homosexuals now free to serve openly in the U.S. military it didn't take long for a gay officer to climb to the top of the commissioned ranks. Star and Stripes, the Defense Department's semi-official newspaper, proudly reported that the Army has promoted its first homosexual officer to general status. “Army reserve officer Tammy Smith calls her recent promotion to brigadier general exciting and humbling, saying it gives her a chance to be a leader in advancing Army values and excellence,” reported the military newspaper. The paper added that the ceremony August 10, at which Smith was officially promoted, “marks an important milestone for gay rights advocates, giving the movement its most senior public military figure. She has already been assigned as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve, and spent much of 2011 serving in Afghanistan.”
In its report on the story, the Los Angeles Times noted that during Smith's promotion ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, her “proud wife placed a star insignia on her spouse's uniformed shoulder — the official mark of an Army brigadier general.” According to the New York Times, Smith, a 26-year Army veteran, married homosexual activist Tracey Hepner in March 2011, after they had dated for nine years. The Times reported that Hepner is the founder of an organization called Military Partners and Families Coalition, which, its website explains, exists to provide “support, resources, education, and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military partners and their families.”
While the Army made Smith unavailable for comment on the singular occasion, in a press release the Defense Department quoted her as explaining her wife's presence by saying that “participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader.”
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