Main | Thursday, September 09, 2010

Air Force Academy Alumni Group Cancels Event To Honor Gay Soldiers

An event to honor gay graduates of the Air Force Academy has been canceled by the Academy's alumni association.
The two groups sponsoring the event signed a contract and put down a deposit, but the dinner was canceled last month by the academy's alumni organization, which controls the venue where it was to be held. 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.
The planned venue for the event was an Academy dining hall that is available for rent by the general public.

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