Lesbian promoted to brigadier general

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Tracey Hepner and Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith. - PHOTO: SLDN

Tammy Smith has become the first openly gay flag officer to come out while serving in the U.S. military. She was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in a private ceremony on Aug. 10 at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Smith received her stars from wife Tracey Hepner.

“For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers. It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country,” said Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate and a director of OutServe, a group dedicated to serving LGBT people in the Armed Forces.

Army veteran Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, added, “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."

Sarvis said Smith made history – "not only as an exemplary servicemember who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor, but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance. This day was long overdue, but I have no doubt more senior enlisted and officers will follow BG Smith in stepping forward smartly with their spouses and loved ones."

Smith is assigned as deputy chief in the Army Reserve Office of the Chief in Washington, D.C.

Hepner co-founded the Military Partners and Families Coalition.