By Fonda BockJuly 5, 2018
An observance in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, hosted by U.S. Army Human Resources Command, was held at Fort Knox in the Saber & Quill June 28.
The modern gay rights movement in the United States was initiated after the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riot in New York City.
"During the LGBT Pride Month observance, we remain mindful of our endeavor to foster inclusive behavior and demonstrate absolute respect for others," said Brig. Gen. Twanda "Tia" Young, deputy commanding general, HRC, during opening remarks.
"The Army firmly values the principles of diversity and inclusion and continues to lead American society in maximizing the potential of future leaders from all backgrounds," she continued.
LGBT History Month was first celebrated in 1994. Since then, LGBT individuals have made progress in obtaining equal rights, though much more remains to be done, said Chris Hartman, the guest speaker for the event and director of Kentucky's Fairness Campaign.
Kentucky's Fairness Campaign works to get comprehensive civil rights legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity enacted throughout the state.
Hartman said the organization was started in 1991 in Louisville by a group of concerned citizens who decided that "LGBT people should have the same rights to earn a living, put a roof over their family's heads and eat at their favorite restaurant without fear that they'd be turned away just because of who they are or who they love."
Nationally, the right of gay and lesbian individuals to serve openly in the Armed Forces and to get married are notable accomplishments of the LGBT rights movement, Hartman said, but added the reality is that much of America is still closed for business to LGBT people.
"Yes, you can be married on Sunday if you're LGBT in America today, but you may be fired from your job or evicted from your apartment on Monday," he said. "That's not true everywhere, but the reality is that in 28 states this is the truth because those states have not updated their civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity."
Hartman said in the past 10 years, his organization has been successful in getting fairness ordinances passed in 10 cities throughout Kentucky that prohibit persons from being legally fired from their jobs, denied a place to live, or kicked out of a restaurant just because they are LGBT.
"Just because we make progress does not mean we keep it," Hartman said.
HRC officials say maintaining progress toward diversity and inclusion for all is why they support events like this.
Hartman called it historical that LGBT observances take place in the Armed Forces and praised Fort Knox for having hosted LGBT events for the past three years.
"Diversity makes the Army better and more equipped to meet the challenges and threats of the future," Young said. "Army leaders must set the conditions to foster and sustain a culture where all are treated with dignity and respect."