June 18, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Pentagon general counsel to keynote DOD Pride event

Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson is set to keynote a Pride celebration for gay service members and LGBT civilians next week, the Washington Blade has learned.

The Defense Department is set to host the event on June 26 starting at 1 pm in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Johnson’s keynote address will be followed by a panel discussion titled, “The Value of Open Service and Diversity.”

Johnson, along Army Gen. Carter Ham, was co-chair of the Pentagon working group in 2010 that drafted the DOD report preparing for legislative the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

He’s also been charged with implementing the legal framework for open service in the military. For example, he issued guidance in September allowing same-sex weddings to be conducted on military bases.

The announcement follows the video that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made public last week commemorating June as Pride month and thanking gay troops and LGBT service members for their service. It was the first such message from a defense secretary.

“Before the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage,” Panetta says in the video. “And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself. And now — after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are when in uniform.”

President Obama signed legislation repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in December 2010. It was lifted in September after certification from Obama, Panetta and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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