COMMENTARY | Eight months after the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the Air Force Academy graduated its first group of openly gay cadets. There were no rainbow flags to be seen at the graduation ceremony, it was reported. And there didn't need to be.
Trish Heller, leader of the Blue Alliance -- the Air Force Academy alumni's LGBT association -- said that this group of cadets didn't want to be identified as anything different than all of the other cadets. They wanted to be known only for their professional service.
And I think that's exactly what they should be known for. It seems that the point of striving for so long for equal rights was to be treated equally. To have their lives respected. To have their accomplishments respected. Just like anyone else's.
Yes, the transition from the military's ban on openly gay service members is a milestone for gay rights advocates. Yes it is something that many people, both in the military and outside of it, have fought to achieve. Yes, it will make a positive difference in the lives of many gay military members.
But any sort of special ceremony or big deal made over the sexual preference of some of this year's Academy graduates would have drawn away from that. The military needed this transition to be smooth. They needed to show the world that openly gay service members are serving just as honorably as all others. That they have been serving honorably since the military was formed. That they will continue to.
And that's exactly what they proved. To all of the 2012 cadets: Congratulations on completing four very challenging years. And thank you for your service.