For the first time ever, Fort Leonard Wood, a military base in Missouri's Ozarks region, is hosting an LGBTQ Pride event -- something that would have been unthinkable (and illegal) in the days of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
But you won't hear about it from the Pulaski County Daily, the small-town paper that covers the base.
Why? Three reasons:
Because owner and reporter Darrell Maurina doesn't approve of homosexuality. Because Maurina refuses to anger his mostly conservative readership with a story they don't want to read anyway.
But also -- and this is downright scary -- because after years of closely covering the base, he strongly believes the military will punish any soldiers who come out in the media as gay.
"I will tell you straight up, in the real world, anybody who is perceived for whatever reason as not with the picture, not a team player, not just with sexuality but with many things, any time somebody is viewed as being out of step with the mission -- you run the risk of a sergeant or a commander who may not look on you as favorably as he should," Maurina tells Daily RFT.
"There are so many things you can do to harm people's careers without officially stating the reason. No matter what the regulation says, sometimes if they're looking for a reason not to like you, they can find a reason even if the official reason is not allowed.... A commander in the army has so much more power than a boss has in the business world."
Maurina's allegation that military brass punish gay soldiers in a post-Don't Ask, Don't Tell world is worrying, especially because the commander in chief of the U.S. Army has done so much to advance gay rights that the media has taken to calling him America's first gay president. But it's particularly terrifying from Fort Leonard Wood, which kicked more gay soldiers out of the military in 2006 than any other base, according to the Associated Press.
Maurina insists that even in 2014, coming out as gay can damage a soldier's career -- especially in the county formerly represented by Ike Skelton, the U.S. Representative who helped craft Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"I don't see a reason to take a small event that probably most people would never have paid much attention to and turn it into an event that will get far more attention than it would have gotten before I show up," Maurina continues. "How does that help people who want to see more lesbians in the military? What it does do is, it hurts people and prevents them from being able to publicly advocate their viewpoints."
Why did Maurina even make his feelings about gay people public? And why is he so against homosexuality? Find out on page two.
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