The ceremony, which was broadcast on an internal TV network to U.S. military bases around the world, contained pre-taped videos from President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and had a panel discussion on “The Value of Open Service and Diversity.”
Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, attended the ceremony with his partner and called the event “the right kind of step forward. It’s measured. It’s done appropriately. It’s consistent with the way the military does things,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
However, some in the crowd of more than 400 attendees expressed concern at the lack of attendance by senior leaders from the different military services, reported Reuters.
The ceremony at the Pentagon comes only nine months after the formal end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a 17-year-old law that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and a month after President Obama became the first President in history to support gay marriage.
Under pressure from gay rights groups, the Pentagon is looking at broadening benefits for same-sex couples. For now, they lack equal access to military housing, medical care and other benefits available to heterosexual couples.