Conflict & Justice

Gay pride parade in San Diego to include military uniforms after Defense Department approval


Marine Jaime Rincon marches down University Avenue, with other military personel, during the San Diego Gay Pride Parade on Saturday, July 16, 2011 in San Diego, California.


Sandy Huffaker

San Diego's gay pride parade will for the first time feature service members in uniform after the Defense Department reportedly approved the move.

According to Reuters, it is the first time the US military has granted such blanket permission since the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy — under which gay individuals were allowed to serve in the military only if they did not divulge their sexual orientation — was repealed in September.

"It is our understanding that event organizers plan to have a portion of the parade dedicated to military members," Reuters cited Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach Rene Bardorf as writing in an internal memo.

"We further understand organizers are encouraging service members to seek their commander's approval to march in uniform and to display their pride."

The Navy had already given approval to sailors to wear their uniform in the parade, CNN reported.

CNN quoted Bardorf as saying in a memorandum: "Based on our current knowledge of the event and existing policies, we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year's parade."

According to the Associated Press, 200 active-duty troops marched in last year's gay pride parade in San Diego but wore T-shirts naming their branch, not military dress.

Members of the military do not need approval to participate in civic events but do need approval to wear their uniform.

The Defense decision came weeks after the Pentagon joined the US government in marking June as gay pride month, making an official salute to gay and lesbian service members.

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