WASHINGTON — At a ceremony last week at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery promoting her to Brigadier General status, Tracey Hepner pinned the star to the uniform of Tammy S. Smith — her wife — making her the first openly gay member of the U.S. Army promoted to that rank.
Smith and Hepner were married in the District of Columbia in March 2012, according to the New York Times, and prior to Smith’s promotion, Hepner co-founded the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which provides support services for the families of gay and lesbian military personnel.
“[P]articipating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader,” Smith told the Times in a statement.
“For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers,” said Sue Fulton, a member of the OutServe board of directors, in a statement. “It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country.”
As a colonel, Gen. Smith served as the chief of Army Reserve Affairs in Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011. She is currently the deputy chief of the Army Reserves.
A previous version of the story identified the couple’s marriage date as March 2011. It was actually March 2012. The Washington Blade apologizes for the error.