Photo Courtesy: United States Navy

The United States Navy is recognizing LGBTQ Pride Month in an official and symbolic way, the oceangoing service announced today.

By Nathan James

The ships and sailors of the seaborne forces will participate “in all the heritage celebrations and special observances” commemorating the anniversary of the famous 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, which began the modern LGBTQ-rights movement.

To remain the finest seagoing fighting force, the Navy needs men and women who are the right fit for the right job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or gender identity,” said Capt. Candace Eckert, Special Assistant for Inclusion and Diversity. “Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the most qualified and capable Sailors. If an individual can meet the Navy’s standards, they should be afforded the opportunity to be part of the One Navy Team.

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The US military has made significant progress in recent years, towards including the LGBTQ community among the ranks of soldiers, sailors, and aviators. Following President Barack Obama‘s 2011 abolition of the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” ban on gays and lesbians in uniform, the Pentagon has begun recruiting transgender servicemen and women into the armed forces.

These service members can join as their “preferred gender”, the Defense Department notes. In addition, Ray Mabus, the Chief of Naval Operations, instituted a policy change in 2015, wherein sailors dishonorably discharged solely based on their sexual orientation, can get their DD-214s upgraded to honorable status. “We’re interested in correcting the record,” Mabus said, “so come in and get that discharge upgraded.”

The Navy is committed to recruiting and retaining top talent regardless of race, class, sex or background. A diverse, inclusive environment allows diversity of thought and innovation to thrive,” said Vice Admiral Robert Burke, the Chief of Naval Personnel.