Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith

by Kim Gamel
Stars and Stripes

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. military's first openly gay general says advances in granting rights to the military’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have increased the ability “to fight tonight” in South Korea.

Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, the 8th Army’s deputy commander for sustainment, spoke Thursday at the LGBT pride observance on the main Army base in Seoul — only the second time the event has been held in a reflection of the hard-won gains for gays in the military.

“To be ready to fight tonight, you know, we’ve got to be able to access the potential of our entire force,” Smith said in remarks in a ballroom at the Dragon Hill Lodge. “We are competing with corporate America for talent and we must demonstrate that we value talent regardless of the demographic that it comes from.”

In a milestone for gay rights, Smith became the first general officer to come out when she was promoted in 2012, less than a year after the controversial don’t ask, don’t tell law was repealed.

Her appearance took on added significance in South Korea, where the national military has recently been accused of targeting gays for arrest. Homosexuality is not illegal in the conservative country, but it is banned in the military and publicly frowned upon.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.473623

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