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. Amy

    Do you also support stoning people? Moses stoned a guy to death for collecting sticks on a Sabbath. 1. Please read your Bible 2. Come back to the 21st Century, we're flying to mars and your quoting thousand year old outdated rules for people who didn't have the technology for toilets. Thank you 🙂

    August 12, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Batman

    And she has no spouse. Unless she were married to a man. If she just came out and thought she was married to a woman why hide? If your proud and loud! Only if you are you would have been years ago!

    August 12, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. MIke

    disgusting !!!

    August 12, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Tracy


      August 12, 2012 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
    • RayJacksonMS

      Yes you and your evil demon god are.

      August 12, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      What that, bigotry?

      August 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Proud American Veteran

    Sad day for the military and the country. Our military is already full of weak-willed politically appointed officers who simply managed to hang on year after year, women who cannot fight (I was in Vietnam and saw what took place there) and others who have been caudled. Only the elite forces are still quality. Screw this inclusiveness; we need a military that can fight not whimper. I don't believe the military today could hold a candle to us in Vietnam; too politically indoctrinated and not tough enough...this gal/guy is sad and very confused.

    August 12, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      I almost gotta wonder if you are a troll... If you were a real vet who actually saw action, You wouldn't speak of our troops that way. You would know what is happening with them a litte better.. I don't know this woman and I don't know what she has or hasn't accomplished. But considering how tough the military is fore women, I have a feeling that she is pretty tough.

      August 12, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • RayJacksonMS

      What war did you lose for America? Nam? Korea? Iraq?

      August 12, 2012 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
    • True Soldier

      Nice job losing in Viet Nam you Jerk. The women in today's military would've rolled the viet cong but all the ignorant backwards drug addicts who got high instead of fighting lost us that one! Thanks again Proud Vet Loser!

      August 12, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Want some cheese with that whine?

      August 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Emdub

    Well done! This woman is far braver than any of the armchair generals on here.

    August 12, 2012 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. cnnsukz

    Gay? really? I would've never known. seriously...the B.G.looks like a dude having a bad hairday.

    August 12, 2012 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. MAC

    Just hope she was not another affirmative action promotion and the first gay affimative action promotion. Yes they have been happening in the military while I was in the service and since my dad was in the service.

    August 12, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Vet

    This is a good cause.
    I will help.

    August 12, 2012 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    To Proud American Veteran: I am sure someone thought that of you too. How your generation was weak, and spoiled. You mentioned Vietnam, well many who fought in the wars before, would claim that Vietnam was a joke. Furthermore its really irrelevant whether this country could handle an old war or not, this is not 1945 or 1965. People like you are part of the old guard, and this world and America is not what you wish it was.

    August 12, 2012 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck

    If she is a General, then she joined a loooooong time ago, before the dont ask dont tell, so she must have lied on her original application.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. ME

    ...She's important enough for you to leave a comment, enough said.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      She is an abomination to all that is Godly. What kind of role models are we choosing to lead our sons and daughters? That's why I chose to comment.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |

    Gosh!!! I dont know what to say. As a Veteran, (now retired but still serving, only not in Uniform) I have been around other Soldiers who were not straight, but they never bother anybody. Of course their demeanor was questionable but, we had a job to do and we did it successfully together. Oh, by the way, I am not gay.. I am just tired of reading about the stereotypes out there against gay people.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnny316

      @whitfieldl, That was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your thought and experience. That made my day.

      August 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zach

    I was surprised by the article headline until I clicked on the article and saw the picture. "Gay" is one thing, "lesbian" is another. The military is a masculine endeavor. A man who has rejected his masculinity becoming a flag officer would be a convoluted (though not unimaginable) situation; for a woman who has rejected her femininity to gladly fit into such a position of power and authority over others is no surprise at all.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Whats Next?....The enlisted will be serving under a General that's a drag queen. All designed with YOU in mind.

    August 12, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. tellitlikeitis

    The way this country is going we will have a gay president in the future and be a complete laughing stock of the entire world. What kind of message does it send to children? It doesnt matter if its religious reasons or science reasons, it is not natural period. You might as well make pedophlia legal also why you are at it. Everything goes now right?

    August 12, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      History shows us that all empires eventually fall. And it usually starts from within......

      August 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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