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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard holds first Pride month celebration

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- The Minnesota National Guard celebrated LGBT Pride Month with a presentation discussing diversity and equality in the current military climate, June 8, 2014 The discussion was led by Rebecca Waggoner, Anti-Violence Program Director for OutFront Minnesota Topics included LGBT language, the current climate for LGBT service members and the next steps moving forward

OutFront Minnesota's mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination

"This isn't a morality issue This is a making a better military issue" said Waggoner With the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on January 28, 2011, Service members were no longer subjected to administrative separation based solely on their sexual orientation Also, since the repeal, military members and retirees with same-sex partners are now qualified for housing, medical and dental benefits

Col John Kolb, Minnesota National Guard Chief of Staff, expressed the importance of discussing diversity and inclusion in today's military

"This is a really important day and we have an opportunity now to look at inclusion," Kolb said "Twenty-seven years ago, I never imagined that I would have a commander, at the Adjutant General level, saying that this is a definite priority across the state"

Same-sex marriage has only been legalized in Minnesota since August 1, 2013 All of the policy change surrounding Service member's sexual orientation has happened in less than three years This rapid shift in military climate does require educating military members with events like today's celebration of LGBT Pride Month "I know many gay and lesbian Soldiers that I've served with over parts of my career," stated Kolb "They were tremendous Soldiers, they served proudly, but they were stifled by a policy that was unfair to their individuality"

In the end, a Service member is a Service member, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation

"We are committed to fostering an environment that truly represents the demographics of the communities in which we serve," said Maj. Gen. Richard C Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General "We must reflect those whom we lead, serve and protect"

June 9, 2014
by Sgt Dajon Ferrell
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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