Pentagon challenged for abandoning Pride Month celebrations under Trump administration

The Pentagon has been challenged over its decision to axe Pride Month celebrations.

Many departments within the US government have downgraded the scale of their LGBT Pride events since the Trump administration came to power, or axed them entirely.

The Pentagon, which is headed by Trump’s Defense Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, this year failed to acknowledge Pride Month with a formal memo for the first time in six years.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis (Zach Gibson/Getty)

It is this is the first year the Pentagon has not marked the LGBT celebration since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in 2011, a policy that banned openly gay troops.

Mattis is facing questions about the decision from House Democrats, with eight lawmakers led by Rep. Anthony Brown seeking answers on the decision to axe celebrations for Defense staff and LGBT service members.

In a letter, they wrote: “We write to express our concern that Pentagon leadership is backing away from supporting and celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members and Department of Defense (DoD) employees.

“The fight for dignity and inclusion for LGBT individuals in our Armed Forces should remain a steadfast priority for the Department of Defense.”

According to the Washington Blade, the letter asks:

1. Please explain the decision made by the Pentagon’s Personnel and Readiness Office to not issue a memo celebrating the contributions of LGBT Americans, as it has done in years past. Please also identify the office, agency or person responsible for determining when DOD will issue memos celebrating or highlighting cultural groups or achievements.
2. What role, if any, did Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert L. Wilkie play in making the decision not to issue a memo celebrating Pride Month?
3. We were disappointed to learn that none of DOD’s leadership would be participating in DOD’s annual Pride event. Please explain why Department of Defense leadership declined, during DOD’s annual Pride event on Monday, June 11, 2018, to speak to their fellow service members and employees?

There was one low-key Pride event held at the Pentagon, the Blade reports, though it was not advertised or promoted as in previous years.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis (Drew Angerer/Getty)

Last year the Pentagon officially recognised Pride.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (Photo by Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)

Defense Secretary James Mattis (Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty)

The department’s memo in 2016, the final one issued under the Obama administration, said: “The Department of Defense (DoD) is pleased to announce the 2016 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in June.

“During this time, the Department recognises lesbian, gay, and bisexual Service members, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgcnder civilians for their dedicated service to both the DoD and our Nation.

“In honouring the LGBT community this year, we acknowledge the importance of diversity within the Defense Department. Diversity and inclusion are readiness imperatives; we rely on our diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise to enable us to address the complex challenges of the global security environment.

“The struggles. sacrifices, and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape the history of our Nation and remind each of us to stand for tolerance, justice, and dignity.

“For the last four years, the DoD has honoured the LGBT lasting ideals of dignity and worth. Don components are encouraged to commemorate LGBT Pride Month and celebrate the accomplishments of those serving in uniform and civilians.”