The Pentagon will allow US military personnel to attend San Diego’s pride parade in uniform for the first, and only, time.
The LA Times reports that organisers of the Californian city’s first pride event since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the ban on openly gay service members, welcomed the announcement.
The Pentagon approved military dress as long as “service members participate in their personal capacity and ensure the adherence to miltary service standards of appearance and wear of the military uniform.”
Organisers described it as a “giant leap” towards equality.
However, AP has said the Pentagon only acted because of national attention the story was attracting after event organisers asked military personnel to attend.
Usually, personnel may not wear their uniform to “bring discredit” on the military or for political purposes.
The Pentagon said it was permitting the uniforms at San Diego this year but not for future events.
However, ex-Navy service member Sean Sala, organiser of military participation in the event, told AP the uniforms were about “showing who they are” and that after Saturday’s march, he believed more uniformed personnel will be seen at pride parades across the US.
He said: “The pursuit of equality is fundamental to the American story. The successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” proved to the Nation that just like the country we defend, we share different backgrounds, different values, and different beliefs — but together, we are the greatest military force in the world [...]
“I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity, to ensure all who are qualified can serve in America’s military, and to give every man and woman in uniform the opportunity to rise to their highest potential.
“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths. During Pride month — and every month — let us celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equality for all.”
Gay and lesbian personnel are allowed to march in Pride parades in the UK in uniform. Nearly 400 military personnel are confirmed as due to take part in San Diego’s Pride parade this year with about 50,000 people expected in total.