In a massive step for LGBTQ+ rights, the US Senate has confirmed two LGBTQ+ nominees to the Department of Defense.
Gina Ortiz Jones and Shawn Skelly have both officially started their respective positions in the defense apartment.
Jones was confirmed as the undersecretary of the Air Force. This has made her the first out lesbian to hold the position through all branches of the military.
She has also become the first woman of colour to be an undersecretary for any military branch.
Skelly is set to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, which makes her the first transgender person to hold the position. She is also the highest-ranking out trans defense official.
The two were both approved with unanimous consent during the confirmation hearings back in June.
Since the news broke, many LGBTQ+ activists have praised Jones and Kelly’s groundbreaking achievement.
In a statement, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, Annise Parker, said the confirmation was “powerful.”
“Gina and Shawn served their country when living openly could result in discharge and a lost career, so their ascension to key leadership positions is a powerful moment for those service members who served or continued to serve in silence,” she exclaimed.
“Their confirmation will transform perceptions of LGBTQ+ people within the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the leaders of militaries we work with around the world.
“While they were confirmed because of their unquestionable qualifications and experience, they symbolize our continued progress and will further disrupt any lingering notion that LGBTQ people are somehow unfit to serve.”
Before landing the position of undersecretary, Jones was an intelligence officer in the Air Force. During her tenure, she was deployed to Iraq and served during Bush’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
After her time in the Air Force, Jones pursued a career in the federal government. She went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. Trade Representatives as an advisor.
Skelly also brings an impressive work history to her position as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. The 20-year Navy veteran co-founded Out in National security, which advocates and protects LGBTQ+ national security professionals.
She then went on to work for President Obama in 2013 as the special assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition. This position also made her the first transgender veteran to be appointed by a U.S. president.
Skelly also served in the Department of Transportation and the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service under the Obama administration.
The LGBTQ+ excellence is shining y’all.