Team Little Rock hosts panel to celebrate pride month history

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base Airmen celebrated and discussed the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month with an informative question-and-answer panel June 26, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

“Events like this are just a small part of the greater discussion that happens during LGBT pride month,” said Capt. Beau Downey, an LGBT Panel attendee. “Hearing Airmen tell their personal experiences is key because real understanding comes from the day-to-day interactions with Airmen who are members of the LGBT community.”

Base leadership and numerous speakers who are part of, or have been affected by, the LGBT community spoke on the history and personal events which transformed them as Airmen as well as their support for the community as part of this year’s theme: “Remember the Past, Create the Future.”

Just 40 years after President Harry S. Truman signed the Uniform Code of Military Justice establishing rules for discharging homosexual service members, President Bill Clinton introduced the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise for lifting the ban on homosexual service members in 1993.

The new compromise mandates that individuals seeking military service shouldn’t be asked about their sexual orientation. This policy lasted until 2010, when the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the DADT.

“The military is the best example you’ll ever find of inclusiveness,” said Lewis Vance, 19th Force Support Squadron deputy director. “Our leaders do not separate or discriminate against the people who make up our service.”

Finally in 2015, a long battle in the LGBT community was won when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage as a legal right across the United States.

Today, because of these rights, Airmen can openly discuss and educate their brothers and sisters-in-arms on the struggles of a community that was once neglected and ignored.

“Our service asks three things from us: service before self, integrity first and excellence in all we do,” said Col. Jennifer Allee, 19th Mission Support Group commander. “It’s our diverse population that unites us to be the world’s leading air force, not our sexuality.”