President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta honored gay service members at the Pentagon's first-ever event marking Gay Pride.

Obama and Panetta addressed the standing-room only event in taped video messages.

“Before the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage. And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself,” said Panetta. “And now after repeal you can be proud of serving your country and be proud of who you are when in uniform.”

“Change never happens on its own. Change happens because ordinary people, countless unsung heroes of our American story, stand up and demand it,” said Obama. “The story of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is no different. As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, we remember the activists and advocates who refused to be treated like second-class citizens.”

The celebration comes just 9 months after the military ended its 18-year-old policy which banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

Jen Johnson, the Pentagon's top attorney, delivered the keynote speech at the event. He said repeal implementation was going “better than anticipated,” gay military group reported.

Johnson added that officials were looking at what benefits could be extended to the partners of gay service members.