Department of Defense officials warned during a Pride month event on Wednesday that LGBTQ+ service members were "under attack" by lawmakers at the state level.
Space Force Chief Operating Officer DeAnna Burt, a lieutenant general, began by saying "more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced at the state level" since January.
"That number is rising and demonstrates a trend that could be dangerous for service members, their families, and the readiness of the force as a whole," she said.
Gil Cisneros, the Pentagon's undersecretary for personnel and readiness, later emphasized that military personnel "must stick together" to defend LGBTQ+ service members being attacked "just because they are different."
Cisneros also mentioned the importance of diversity and inclusion policies to attract recruits, in light of the military's struggle with recruitment.
"It is a diverse talent pool that ultimately contributes to our success on the battlefield and beyond‚" he said. "Diversity and inclusion are imperative to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent; we must ensure that we reach out to all communities."
The Pride month celebration comes as Republican lawmakers have criticized the Pentagon for pushing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as environmental, social, and corporate governance policies.
For example, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has held up the promotion of 184 general and flag officers over the Pentagon's decision to pay for service members to travel to obtain abortions.
"American taxpayers are on the hook for funding abortions in the military," Tuberville told Newsmax in March. "Now that we've already had an abortion policy, this is not about abortion. This is about extending abortion limits, making it more accessible to dependents in the families and transportation."
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