Gay pride event at Wright-Patt sparks controversy

GREENE COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is making history.

For the first time it’s recognizing Gay Pride month.

Wright-Patterson is holding educational panels and a Pride 5K run to recognize the LGBT or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

But after years of not accepting openly gay members into the military, the move is not going over well for some.

“Who would ever have dreamed there would be one of those on a military establishment?” said an anonymous Base employee.

He didn’t want to show his face, for fear of losing his job. But he reached out to 2 NEWS, making sure we knew not everyone is on board with this event.

“We don’t dislike lesbians and gays and transgender but we don’t agree with that lifestyle.”

We took his concerns to the base.

“Slowly across the Air Force, these pride months are picking up,” said Colonel Cassie Barlow

Col Barlow tells 2 NEWS the Department of Defense authorized the special observance of pride months last year but it wasn’t until this June that Wright-Patt decided to participate.

“We need to be a diverse force because that brings us our strength,” said Col Barlow.

For decades homosexual people were not allowed to serve openly in the military. That changed in 2011 when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed.

“We have a lot of making up to do and that’s what we are doing,” said Col Barlow.

The events are getting national attention. The Family Research Council sees this movement as a promotion of a controversial social agenda. The group said the flyer sent out by Wright-Patt shows, the military might not be as supportive of gay rights as they claim.

“It doesn’t say pride in what, they actually don’t use the term gay pride or LGBT pride and so it raises questions in my mind whether they are really proud in what it is that they are trying to identify,” said Peter Sprigg with the Family Research Council.

A gay rights supporter said regardless, recognizing pride month is a step in the right direction.

“The military quite honestly is behind the rest of country in knowing about some of these issues because of don’t ask, don’t tell so they are still catching up,” said PFLAG member Nancy Tepfer.

Col Barlow said the Air Force Base recognizes different months throughout the year that support diversity. The events are all run by volunteers and they’re not funded through the base or by taxpayers.

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