Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith has become the U.S. Army's first openly gay general after being promoted from colonel on Friday at Arlington National Cemetary. Smith is the highest-ranking gay or lesbian officer to acknowledge her sexuality during service, and her promotion comes nearly a year after the reversal of "don't ask, don't tell." Smith's wife, Tracey Hepner, pinned Smith's star insignia on her during the ceremony, which was sort of a huge deal because, before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," Smith and Hepner couldn't appear together as a military couple during official functions.
Though Smith says she recognizes the social significance of her promotion, she insists that her duties as a newly-minted brigadier general are of more immediate importance. "All of those facts [about the social significance of her promotion] are irrelevant," Smith said after the ceremony. "I don't think I need to be focused on that. What is relevant is upholding Army values and the responsibility this carries."