During a promotion ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, a proud wife placed a star insignia on her spouse's uniformed shoulder — the official mark of an Army brigadier general.
With that simple gesture, Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith became the country's first openly gay general.
The promotion of Smith, the highest-ranking gay or lesbian to acknowledge his or her sexual orientation while serving, comes less than a year after the repeal of “don't ask, don't tell,” the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Since the reversal last September, the relationship between the government and the armed forces has shifted to include more outreach to LGBT service members.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta posted a YouTube video thanking gay service members and praising the ban’s repeal. In June, the Pentagon hosted a Gay Pride Month event. And in July, members of the military wore their uniforms during a San Diego gay pride parade, the first time the Defense Department had allowed such a practice.