A lot has changed since the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and some things have stayed the same, but today marks a new milestone in the months since the ban on gays serving openly in the military was repealed: The appointment of the first openly gay general. As Stars and Stripes' Leo Shane III reports, Army reserve officer Tammy Smith has been promoted to brigadier general today, but that wasn't her only headline: "She is also publicly acknowledging her sexuality for the first time, making her the first general officer to come out as gay while still serving," Shane writes. Besides being the most senior military figure to come out as gay, she has now been assigned as deputy chief at the Office of the Chief at the Army Reserve. "All of those facts are irrelevant," Smith told the newspaper. "I don’t think I need to be focused on that. What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries."
Interestingly, Shane has known about Smith's orientation for at least a year, using her as an anonymous source prior to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell last summer. At that time, Smith said "she had no plans to come out to her colleagues, but was looking forward to the relief of knowing that her career wouldn’t be threatened if she was found out." Meanwhile, Smith's wife Tracy Hepner, who co-founded the Military Partners Families Coalition, which lobbied for benefits for same-sex couples, was decidedly upbeat. “The support we’ve received has been amazing,” Hepner said. "I wasn’t surprised that people were so accepting, but in some cases it has been even celebratory. It’s like nothing has really changed for us, and yet everything has changed."
Reacting to the news, Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks probably said it best. "It is an interesting moment, in part because it is so uncontroversial." Clearly, we've come a long way.