A high-ranking Space Force officer recently condemned what she said were anti-LGBTQ laws passed by state legislatures across the country.
Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, the deputy chief of space operations, told an audience at a Pentagon Pride celebration that more than 400 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,” Gen. Burt said.
Such laws can impact the personnel decisions she makes for Space Force service members, including promotions and assignments. While job performance and relevant experience are primary considerations, a potential commander’s “personal circumstances” are also important factors, Gen. Burt said.
“If a good match for a job does not feel ‘safe’ being themselves and performing at their highest potential at a given location, or if their family could be denied critical health care due to the laws in that state, I am compelled to consider a different candidate and (someone who is) perhaps less qualified,” Gen. Burt said.
She assailed state legislatures, saying their anti-LGBTQ laws amount to a “threat to our readiness” and negatively impact military personnel.
“The diverse and inclusive tapestry of the Department of Defense must continue to embrace the LGBTQ Plus community,” Gen. Burt said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, a Florida Republican and combat-decorated Army Green Beret, criticized Gen. Burt’s speech, which was remarkably fiery coming from a serving military officer.
“Note to uniformed generals: Stay out of politics!” Mr. Waltz wrote on Twitter.
Space Force falls under the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps is technically part of the Department of the Navy. When asked whether it was appropriate for a senior military officer like Gen. Burt to publicly criticize state legislatures while on duty, a spokesperson said only that the Air Force “recognizes that various laws and legislation are being proposed and passed in states across America that may affect LTBTQ Airmen, Guardians and/or their LGBTQ dependents in different ways.”
“We have worked to inform and educate our members on the assignment, medical, legal and other resources available to support Airmen, Guardians, and their families,” the spokesperson said.
Gen. Burt said more work needed to be done and suggested creating a Pentagon board focusing on LGBTQ inclusion in the military, similar to the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, better known as DACOWITS.
“Department of the Air Force initiatives will only be able to move the needle so far without (Office of Secretary of Defense) support,” she said.