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Team Little Rock hosts panel to celebrate pride month history

A woman wearing the Airman Battle Uniform speaks into a microphone into a circle of people also wearing the Airman Battle Uniform. They are sitting around tables with table cloths that are each a different color of the rainbow.

Col. Jennifer Allee, 19th Mission Support Group commander, shares her personal story as an ally in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community June 26, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Team Little Rock celebrated LGBT Pride Month with a Q&A panel to recognize how far memebers have come as a service in accepting the LGBT community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

Two women wearing the Airmen Battle Uniform sit at a table with a red table cloth and smile at the camera.

Tech. Sgt. Danielle Garcia, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instruments and flight control systems craftsman and Master Sgt. Danielle Joe, 19th Force Support Squadron services specialist, answer questions at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month panel hosted June 26, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Airmen shared their personal experiences about the LGBT community and answered questions on past challenges they faced in the military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

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.”
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