The U.S. Air Force has authorized Air and Space Force commanders to use taxpayer money to cover the travel costs for service members seeking to attend the branch’s upcoming “pride” events.
On June 1, Marianne Malizia, the director of the Air Force’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, issued a memo notifying branch commanders of several upcoming LGBT-related events in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Department of the Air Force (DAF). According to the memo, Air and Space Force commanders will be permitted to utilize “unit funds” to pay for service members under their command to “travel to, and participate in, this year’s DAF Pride events if approved by their individual supervisory authority.”
“Service members or civilian employees may attend conferences at the unit expense to maintain and improve professional competency or to improve management of the Department’s functions and activities,” the memo reads. The DAF justifies the use of taxpayer money to pay for such travel under Section 030201 of the Defense Department’s Joint Travel Regulation, which establishes “travel and transportation allowances” for military service members.
A rainbow-colored flyer accompanying the memo lists the three upcoming events the DAF is slated to participate in, including a “Pride at the Pentagon” celebration scheduled to be held at the Pentagon Air Force Art Gallery on June 8 and an “LGBTQ+ Initiatives Team (LIT) Symposium” to be held at the Pentagon Library & Conference Center on June 9. The Air Force will also have a recruiting booth at the D.C. Pride Festival on June 11.
The Air Force has additionally issued a pre-constructed memo that service members can fill out and submit to their commanders to request permission to leave their unit and travel to D.C. for the aforementioned events.
A DAF spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the documents and the branch’s upcoming “pride” events.
This is hardly the first time the Air Force has gone out of its way to encourage the celebration of “pride month.” On May 3 — several days after the U.S. Navy got busted for using an enlisted drag queen to recruit new sailors — the Air Force issued a memo “empower[ing]” Air Force installation commanders to “plan and conduct” so-called “appropriate activities” on bases to commemorate “rainbow” month. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also published a separate statement praising LGBT service members last week.
Among the previously scheduled LGBT-related events on Air Force property was an all-ages, June 1 drag show at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Following pressure from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley ordered base leadership to cancel or relocate the event last week. The move came after Austin claimed during a March House hearing that “drag shows … are not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds.”
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., has since introduced legislation prohibiting the Defense Department “from paying for, hosting or supporting adult cabaret performances,” according to The Daily Caller.