During her speech at the 12th annual Defense Department’s LGBTQ+ Pride event held at the Pentagon earlier this month, Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, deputy chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, leveled criticism at state-level legislation the general feels will negatively impact LGBTQ+ military personnel and their dependents.
“Since January of this year, more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced at the state level,’ said Burt. ‘That number is rising and demonstrates a trend that could be dangerous for service members, their families, and the readiness of the force as a whole,’ she added.
Without specifically calling individual states, Burt took the lawmakers to task for leaving her with options in personnel choices that because of the hostile environments targeting the LGBTQ+ community translated to her having to settle on filling jobs with less qualified persons so as to avoid a potential harmful environment for LGBTQ+ servicemembers or their families.
2023 Justice Department Pride event (The general’s remarks start at 38:33):
“When I look at potential candidates, say, for squadron command, I strive to match the right person to the right job. I consider their job performance and relevant experience first. However, I also look at their personal circumstances, and their family is also an important factor,” the general said.
“If a good match for a job does not feel safe being themselves and performing at their highest potential at a given location, or if their family could be denied critical health care due to the laws in that state, I am compelled to consider a different candidate, and, perhaps less qualified. Those barriers are a threat to our readiness, and they have a direct correlation to the resiliency and wellbeing of our most important operational advantage: Our people,” Burt stressed.
State legislatures across the nation have this year introduced nearly 525 bills attacking the LGBTQ+ community. A Defense Department spokesperson while declining to comment directly on Burt’s comments, said:
“We have the top talent in the nation, and we must enable them to perform their missions by ensuring they are not worried about the health and safety of their families. The department recognizes that various laws and legislation are being proposed and passed in states across America that may affect LGBTQ+ soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, guardians, and/or their LGBTQ+ dependents in different ways.”
“Efforts are made by leadership on a continuing basis to identify and remove any barriers that impacts force readiness and moral,” the official added.
During a Pride event at the White House, President Joe Biden called the new state measures ‘terrifying’ attacks on LGBTQ+ rights.
“When families across the country face excruciating decisions to relocate to a different state to protect their child from dangerous ant-LGTBQ laws, we have to act,” the president said.
‘We need to push back against the hundreds of callous and cynical bills introduced in states targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors and nurses,’ Biden said adding, “These bills and laws attack the most basic values and freedoms we have as Americans.”
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