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June 1 marked the beginning of Pride Month in our country. This is a month when our nation celebrates the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community and the progress made on issues of equality, representation and alliance.

Pride Month is celebrated in June in honor of those who protested police brutality against the LGBTQ+ community during the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.

While members of the LGBTQ+ community have served in the Navy since its inception, openly gay service has only been possible since 2011, with the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The ability to serve our country, by anyone willing and able to volunteer, was further enhanced in January 2021 when President Joe Biden issued an executive order ensuring transgender service members would have the same ability to serve as others. . “All Americans qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be eligible to serve,” Biden wrote.

The diversity of our nation’s fighting force is one of its greatest strengths. Anyone, regardless of gender or gender identity, who meets the rigorous standards of military service should be welcomed and supported within the military community.

Generations of Americans have fought and died in the service of our nation, while hiding to serve. Their sacrifices should not be borne by this generation of fighters.

In the name of progress, the Navy began building and commissioning 20 John Lewis-class ships, each named after American heroes who fought for equal rights and justice.

The first ship with direct ties to the LGBTQ+ community, USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) was christened on November 7, 2021 in a ceremony in San Diego, California.

Harvey Milk was a Navy veteran and one of the first openly gay people elected to public office in 1977. Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and led the approval of a bill banning the discrimination based on sexual orientation. Less than a year after taking office, he was assassinated by a disgruntled former city overseer.

His legacy lives on in the fight for fairness, equality and justice in the LGBTQ+ community. There is still progress to be made.

To get involved in supporting the LGBTQ+ community at Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Puget Sound, contact the PRIDE Employee Resource Group at [email protected]

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