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. Corey

    A gay woman General? Conservatives must be frothing at the mouth in rage over it

    August 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt G

    Hey Christians. You say that being gay is a sin. So is judging others.

    Get over yourselves.

    The end.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leeroy

      We are all to judge between right and wrong. You are confused. It's far from the end.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexasRedNeck

      So is pride Matt G.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Not judging anything. The enemy will laugh that little 90 lb girl scout off the battle field! Is this some kind of a joke? We have Navy seals taking orders from this soccer mom!? Obama is deliberately WRECKING THIS NATION IN EVERY FACET. Nobody could be that DUM B to do it out of ignorance.

      August 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Glenn

    What's the big deal, hasn't any one seen the Marine Corps billboard ads with the soldier wearing white gloves and a uniform straight out of a gay pride parade.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ma Deuce

    You obviously don't know what "Don't Ask Don't Tell" meant.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Tell us; what did it mean? Back when it was in effect!

      August 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rupert

    "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!" never had more meaning.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rod C. Venger

    How pathetic. The military is a fighting force, a deterrent force, a peacekeeping force. It's purpose is to project American power abroad and ensure our safety. It's not a sewing circle, it's not a hen party. Her coming out of the closet distracts from the mission. She's a Brigadier General, and her private life has absolutely no business being in the public domain. Having served under numerous Generals of all levels not to mention all the Colonels, Lt Colonels, Majors, etc...I can't think of a single one that brought their personal life to the office or the field. Officers that I sat and ate with, talked with, never once chose to share with me any aspect of their home lives and these were men that I served with for years. This one is "special" though, huh? She, and they, have an agenda and will risk the mission in order to promote it.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Officers that I sat and ate with, talked with, never once chose to share with me any aspect of their home lives and these were men that I served with for years"

      maybe they just didnt like you.

      August 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • S

      Read the article......

      “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.”

      August 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And guess what?
      SHE didn't!
      The media did, and she confirmed it, that's all.
      Jeez, people are petty as hell!

      August 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrBluiis

      ...I can't think of a single one that brought their personal life to the office or the field. Officers that I sat and ate with, talked with, never once chose to share with me any aspect of their home lives and these were men that I served with for years.

      And so meanwhile, in all this time, if you knew that Generals (and on down the line) were straight because they talked about what the did on their vacation, maybe showed you pictures of their wives and kid didn't somehow come up in all of your years of conversation? Strange. What exactly do you guys talk about? I know guys whill be guys so don't try to confuse me!

      August 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raider

      Rod C Venger, you are lying. I am willing to bet my military retirement check that you are a liar. I bet every General, Col, Lt Col, Sgt Maj and all others that you served under, had their wives/husbands/significant other come to the office, attend military functions and office cookouts. I bet you was well aware of what their marital status was and you knew the names of their children. Most even have family pictures sitting on their desk. This notion that they didn't bring their private lives to the office is simply a lie.

      August 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MiamiMikey

      You are on lying ##%#%$. They never talked about their families, their loved ones, etc.. So sorry that u are lying. You sir are a disgrace to this country!!!!

      August 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Did they by any chance let people know they were married? Dolt!

      August 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyndia

      rod the pathic thing is that you are unable to cope with change.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. cas

    "gay flag officer" FOR a moment I did not see the L in FLAG!

    August 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrBluiis

      Don't forget, she's fighting for your right to remain straight. It works both ways. Show some respect.

      August 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    What are you, 12?

    August 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. disgustedvet

    If you were ever in the Army ( can't speak for other branches ) and served along side women members you would already know many preferred the company of other women rather than you. It was not an issue . They performed their duties and no one cared. Same can be said of the "gay " men who served. It was not the big deal that everyone seems to think it was. And that was during the Nam years. Not to say isolated instances didn't occur but they were just that isolated,not the norm.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • anantsy

      When in the armed forces, they are all robots.

      August 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hear Ye

      Not so isolated these days – but we'll see where history takes us on this Mother Nature's Little Mistake adventure.
      Hear the Chinese giggling?

      August 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mrs. Garrison

    Aw, scissor me, General!!! Yeah!!!

    August 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. anantsy

    IIn my opinion, it doesn't matter whether one is straight, gay, lesbian, or pedophile personnel in the Armed Forces, as they turn all of them into robots.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyndia

      You would not care if a pedophile was in the army? Anansty, are you thinking straight?

      August 11, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. Frank

    People of the United States of America,
    I am sure General Smith is a fine officer,when I served in Vietnam everyone had a clue as to who was gay or not even in the Officer Corps.I always for whatever reason had a level of understanding and acceptance for Lesbian officers because women are totally different beings on an emotional, psychological and sensitivity level from men.

    August 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kathleen M Isabell

    Congratulations General Smith and Ms. Hepner. I'm extremely proud of you! I've been following the issue of equality in the military for a long time, I guess it's been more than 20 years, my god I've lost track. Since before Randy Shilts' book Conduct Unbecoming came out, I think. There was a great PBS show called Coming Out Under Fire that moved me to tears, I hope it's still available to interested parties. Go, go, go, everyone who cares, who is serving, who will serve. This is now, this is the future!

    August 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    If your going to rebuke Gods commands, then why not go all the way. hence, a gay military officer

    August 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Thou shalt not kill! Fits right in, doesn't it?

      August 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hear Ye

    Yes, quite manly – we're sunk now. The military lost the war. Will he/she be waving the rainbow flag?

    August 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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