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The Department of Defense has updated its military equal opportunity policy to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members from discrimination and harassment.

Defense Secretary Ashton Cater said sexual orientation has been added to the military’s policy to ensure that the military, like the rest of the federal government, includes sexual orientation alongside race, religion, color, sex, age and national origin in its discrimination policy.

{mosads}“Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that have allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so,” Carter said during DOD’s Pride Month Ceremony.

“And we must start from a position of inclusivity, not exclusivity. Anything less is not just plain wrong; it’s bad defense policy, and puts our future strength at risk.”

Last month, senators sent a letter to Carter urging him to bring DOD’s policies in line with the Pentagon’s 2014 Human Goals Charter, a document which governs the fair treatment of people. In that charter, DOD states it will “strive to make military service in the Department of Defense a model of equal opportunity for all regardless of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.”

In their letter, lawmakers criticized the agency for failing to protect people in the LGBT community following the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” — the Clinton-era law that had prohibited gay and lesbian people from serving opening in the military.

Carter said Tuesday that diversity and inclusion are critical for building the military force of the future.

“Young Americans today are more diverse, open, and tolerant than past generations, and if we’re going to attract the best and brightest among them to contribute to our mission of national defense, we have to ourselves be more open, diverse, and tolerant, too,” he said. “It’s the only way to compete in the 21st century.”

Tags Discrimination in the United States Don't ask, don't tell Homophobia Homosexuality Human behavior Human sexuality LGBT rights in the United States Secrecy Sexual orientation and military service Sexual orientation and the United States military Social Issues
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