ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- The crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, June 27.
TR's Diversity Committee member Chief Legalman Tiffany Garfield kicked off the event, which aptly followed the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
"The United States is the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage," said Garfield. "Same-sex couples can now enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples and they will be recognized on legalized documents such as birth and death certificates."
Capt. Daniel C. Grieco, TR's commanding officer, followed Garfield's introduction and offered his remarks.
"I want to thank you all for being here and I'd like to thank the Diversity Committee for all of their hard work in making this celebration happen," said Grieco. "Today we celebrate and we come together on the mess decks for some fellowship in recognition of each of our unique aspects that we bring to the fight. It's important to acknowledge our differences and to embrace them as each and every one of us has something different to offer that makes us special."
Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12, echoed Grieco's sentiments.
"As we celebrate and commemorate LGBT Pride Month I want to talk about leadership and command," said Lewis. "I've led at five commands and I've had one priority at every single one. The priority is the mission. The mission that we have right now cannot be achieved without leadership at all levels. We could also not achieve our mission unless we get the most out of every Sailor and Marine regardless of what they look like, what their beliefs are and what their sexual orientation is," said Lewis.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Adjon-Alber Watkins was excited to be a part of the celebration.
"This is a huge milestone," said Watkins. "What seemed like a never-ending battle for human rights finally feels like a win. It feels like we're more accepted - to celebrate something like this on one of America's warships. We're actually embraced as a part of the team."
Operations Specialist 3rd Class Kali Washington was appreciative to the chain of command for the celebration.
"This has been a pretty monumental week," said Washington. "This event shows how open-minded our chain of command and Navy really are."
In a presidential proclamation, President Barack Obama said, "I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people."
According to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), former President of the United States Bill Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7316, June 2, 2000, establishing the first Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
"This June, recognizing the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done, we observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and celebrate the progress we have made in creating a society more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians," said Clinton in his address.
Fifteen years later, President Obama applauded the Supreme Court's decision, calling it, "a big step in our march toward equality."
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Fatoumata Diallo thanked the chain of command for the event and said she looks forward to the next diversity celebration.
"These events bring people together to celebrate each other and what we all have to bring to the table," said Diallo. "It lets you know that you can be yourself around your chain of command and that's something I value."
The ceremony concluded with a cake cutting and fellowship.
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.