This breaking news is not only discriminatory, it’s simply a no-class decision by the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates.
OutServe, the network of actively serving gay and lesbian military members, was to be the sponsor and host the dinner along with Blue Alliance, an organization of gay and lesbian alumni of the Air Force Academy. The deposits on location had been made — the organizations had an agreement with the Association of Graduates to use the Association of Graduates building on Air Force Academy property for the event, and invitations had already been extended to Congress members, allied military officers, and leaders in the lesbian and gay community.
Just so Blenders know, Outserve had invited me to the event as a supportive member of the LGBT blogging community. I was looking forward to the dinner to honor those who have served in silence and to be able to liveblog the event for you. Now that’s not going to happen. Here’s why. (Denver Post):
A spokesman said the event placed the school’s leadership in the tough spot of appearing to endorse repeal of the current ban, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The turnabout has set off a fusillade of charges and countercharges, focusing attention on the institution that is known as the most conservative of the service academies just as the military studies the possibility of welcoming openly gay fighters.
A spokesman for the group OutServe, one of the dinner’s sponsors whose members include gay Air Force Academy graduates currently serving, called the cancelation “blatant discrimination.” The event was meant not as a political statement but to recognize the contribution of gays and lesbians to the country’s armed forces, said the spokesman, who is a lieutenant in the active-duty military.
Gary Howe, executive vice president of the alumni association – known as the Association of Graduates – said the groups are trying to embarrass the Air Force Academy at a delicate moment in the debate. “To think that holding such an event on the United States Air Force Academy (campus) would not be political, I think they’re blowing smoke,” Howe said.
Howe’s comment is ridiculous – his problem is the dinner would have highlighted service by those in the Air Force who put their lives on the line for this country, even at the risk of being discharged for reasons that have nothing to do with performance or patriotism. The Air Force should be embarrassed at DADT, and holding the dinner would at least suggest that understands this sacrifice. It is turning the page and facing reality.
“At a time when we’re honoring veterans, we wanted to recognize probably the most ignored veterans in our country: gays and lesbians,” said OutServe’s active-duty co-director, who goes by the pseudonym JD Smith. “It was made clear this dinner was not to be an event regarding ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ it was to be a night to honor the LGBT history in the Air Force. All in attendance would fully comply with Air Force policy – including ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ ” A program outlining the dinner was sent to the administration to assure the association that the dinner was not to be political in nature.
“Veterans Day is for all veterans, including gays and lesbians,” stated Ty Walrod, co-director of OutServe. “Intentional or not, this sends a message that their sacrifices were not, and are not, valued. OutServe members who are currently serving their country, the Air Force Academy graduates, and most importantly all those who have given their lives in defense of this country who happened to be gay or lesbian, deserve better.”