August 10th, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Army general is military's first openly gay flag officer

The U.S. military has its first openly gay flag officer with the promotion of Tammy Smith to the rank of Army brigadier general on Friday.

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Smith received her stars in a private ceremony at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a press release from the Service Members Legal Defense Network, an organization promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military.

Friday was also the first day she publicly acknowledged her sexuality, according to a report from Stars and Stripes, and that acknowledgement comes less than a year after the military ended the "don't ask, don't tell" policy under which an active-duty service member faced punishment or discharge if he or she admitted being homosexual.

“I don’t think I need to be focused on that," Stripes quoted Smith as saying. "What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries.”

Smith is serving as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve in Washington. She is a 26-year veteran of the Army and has served in Afghanistan, Panama and Costa Rica as well as stateside assignments.

“It is indeed a new era in America’s military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement.

Smith's spouse is Tracey Hepner, director of operations for the Military Partners and Families Coaliton, an advocacy and support organization for LGBT members of the military.

Hepner presented Smith with her stars at Friday's ceremony.

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Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell • Gay and lesbian • Military • U.S. Army
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. Vincent

    If she is qualified for the job, and has earned it, she gets the job.
    End of story.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. GySgtG

    Too funny

    August 11, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. Soldier

    I always thought Marines were the first to go in... why'd she have to be from the Army???

    August 11, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Do marine corps NCOs cross those swords?

      August 11, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. GySgtG

    Anne, it is apparrant you know nothing of the military. Stick to playing woth your barbies

    August 11, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. wildone

    What's a "flag officer"? (Was that a typo?)

    August 11, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Morphius889

      A Flag Officer is a Naval Officer (I.e., Navy and Coast Guard). She is a General Officer, General Officers are in the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. The writter probably doesn't know the diffrence.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lisa

    Gays have been allowed to serve if the don't disclose. Now they can disclose. So no, she didn't violate the law. Don't ask, don't tell. They didn't ask, she didn't tell. Now she is allowed to serve openly, and she is. Get over it. Q

    August 11, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. bill137

    What orders were those that she supposedly failed to follow? Your kind are dying out, and that's a good thing.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. v3tuesdays

    Please look up the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Azrael

    She failed to follow what everyone with a brain realizes was an unlawful order. Therefore she is not a hypocrite but an example of what a soldier should be.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

    Glad you approve. And if you don't, leave the country and move to Syria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    She looks kinda old to be getting her first star...
    That alone says volumes about her career...

    August 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. bran

    A flag officer is one who holds the rank of BGen or higher, for the navy , that is an admiral another way to look at is pay grade O-7 or above

    August 11, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lamar in Dallas, TX

    Yeah, you can serve your country and not have to lie about you you are. Maybe that "freedom" thing is is finally taking hold in America!

    August 11, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. lillolady

    Warmest congratulations, General Smith! Thank you for your service! And I'd like to express my warmest congratulations to Ms. Hepner. She suppported her spouse without any aid or acknowlegement from our country, and made her carreerr posible. Thank you for your service!

    Naysayers: You may disagree with the missions handed down by our civilian leadership, but let's not confuse the soldier with the mission. Work for change!

    Bigots: Please wash your brains out with soap. All that filth causes terminal stupidity. Remember, you can't fix stupid!

    August 11, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • lillolady

      All apologies for the typos. More coffee....

      August 11, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Brent Jatko

      Amen to that comment!

      August 11, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Aezel

    Newsflash, the culture war on gays is over and you lost conservatives. The best part? There isn't anything you can do about it. Go cry in a corner.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
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