Coronavirus cancels Pentagon Pride for the first time since historic repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Pentagon disappointed as coronavirus forces Pride event cancellation

The Pentagon has cancelled its annual Pride month event for the first time since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” due to coronavirus.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official White House policy that barred openly gay, bisexual and lesbian people from serving in the US military.

The Pentagon’s LGBT+ Pride event has been held in June every year since 2012, a year after DADT was repealed by then-president Barack Obama.

But DOD Pride, the group for LGBT+ service members and department of defence employees, confirmed that coronavirus means this years event is cancelled.

“Each year since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, we’ve gathered in the Pentagon to celebrate and honour the contributions that LGBT+ service members and DOD civilians make to national security each and every day,” Rudy Coots, president of DOD Pride, told the Washington Blade.

“That’s why we’re so disappointed that, due to COVID-19, we’ve had to cancel this year’s DOD LGBT Pride event.”

Former speakers at the Pentagon’s Pride event include former defence secretary Chuck Hagel and former army secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person confirmed to that role.

The Pentagon previously issued a formal message for each Pride month, although this practice was scrapped for the past two years under Donald Trump’s administration.

In 2018, senior Pentagon staff broke a six-year tradition by failing to acknowledge Pride month in June.

A State Department spokesperson would not confirm whether this year, as coronavirus forces the Pentagon’s Pride event to be cancelled, the department would acknowledge Pride month in another way, according to the Blade.

“The Department of State works tirelessly to protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all human beings around the world, regardless of gender, religion or belief, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic circumstance,” the spokesperson said.

“The United States firmly opposes abuses against LGBT+ persons. Governments must ensure that all individuals can freely enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Traditionally, the president issues a Pride month proclamation, as well as hosting LGBT+ inclusive events in the White House.

However, since Trump became president in 2017, these have been suspended.