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. edmundburkeson

    A new commander in chief is in order.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Crocker

      Preferably someone who has actually served in the military.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rigthtster

    Over 20 years ago, many women were openly gay so more than likely this new general has been openly gay during her whole career, but the ladies always got a wink and a nod on this issue.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GySgtG

    When will you people get it. The chic fil A support all over the country. People will never accept gays. We will tollerate only so much.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • gues22

      this is the same mentality people had during segregation. eventually the bigots will be the minority.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Um. Except that people are more accepting than ever.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ErickMN

      You backwards folk in the south will someday get your faces out of the chik-fulla-hate trough and join the modern world. In the meantime, we'll go on without you.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Your God is immoral and he oppresses and threatens others. We will tolerate only so much!

      August 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      You all said that about blacks 50 years ago. pathetic short-sighted fools. So when will YOU get it – you're on the wrong side of history.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      That's what everyone in Mississippi and Alabama said about Blacks in the 50s and 60s. We're evolving, we're growing, pretty soon this will be a non-sissue. It's all in how the children are educated. As a famous German physicist said: "science advances funeral by funeral." Same thing with changes in public perceptions of gays.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leeroy

      This is not about segregation. Race is not a choice. I'm so tired of people trying to suggest that there is a connection between the racial issues of the past and present . . . and this abominable sin of choice.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crusader K

      I thought the same thing when I tried to decipher your spelling. Or lack thereof.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      don't be ridiculous. of course people all over the country support gays.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • sickofbigots

      Hey Gay Sgt Guy:

      That is what your abbreviated name means, right?

      Why is it that bigots (that would be you) never know how to spell? What's the matter, you can't TOLERATE using your damn spell check?

      Do the Corps a favor and zip it. You're embarrassing them with your hateful dreck.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • bighulawood

      And then what? Poor kitten.... you need to face the fact that your type of activism is simply resistance to change. It moves slowly (civil rights) but move it does – and your vehemence is just an example of the dying gasp of a dwindling group on the wrong side of history.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • bighulawood


      August 11, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    Congratulations, General Smith. And thank you for your service to the U.S. in your multiple assignments in the Army. Best wishes to you and your family.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Leeroy

    She looks like General Petraeus with blond hair. 🙂

    August 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. punkman

    Anyone who has spent time in the military knows how political flag officer promotions are. Her promotion was because she is openly gay. I have nothing at all against gays or lesbians but those are the facts.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caboose

      Except for the fact that the article says she didn't reveal her orientation until after her promotion.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      those are your opinions. you are in possession of no actual facts regarding her promotion.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. TheBuckStopsHere

    How utterly political of her.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Oodoodanoo

    Good for her (sincerely), and otherwise who cares.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Allen

    Big deal. I bet as much as 20% of the women in uniform are gay. It's always been a double standard for gay women as opposed to gay men. Call me when there's a gay MALE general, and then I'll think it's a big story.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ronzo54q

    Don't know – can you elucidate your service to our country?

    August 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ronzo54q

    I'm waiting – what is your service to the USA?

    August 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ronzo54q

    None – you should be ashamed

    August 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Karen45

    Gross! what ever floats their hummer, or drives their transport.. ! keep it to
    your selves LADIES dont flaunt your gayness you might be fired before your hired, well... thats what the
    Army should do... since it was their law that they repealed, ya know.... Best whishes to you and yours BG. T. Smith.

    August 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CAC

    No doubt her gayness was a total surprise!

    August 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CAC

    Will someone please explain why we even have women in the military?

    August 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boz

      Because Bill and Hillary Clinton said so, When he was Pres. and Hillary is ONE

      August 11, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
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