Military's first openly gay flag officer

Aug. 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Tammy Smith, a 26-year army veteran, became the first openly gay flag officer to serve in the U.S. military after being promoted to Army brigadier general.

Smith was promoted Friday at a private ceremony at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, CNN reported. She also came out publicly for the first time Friday, less than a year after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

"I don't think I need to be focused on that," Stars and Stripes quoted Smith as saying. "What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries."

Smith, who currently serves as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve in Washington, has served in Afghanistan, Panama and Costa Rica.

"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," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military.

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