An estimated 250 active-duty service members and veterans on Saturday marched Saturday in San Diego‘s gay pride parade, just one day after a federal appeals court reinstated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but with a provision that prohibits the military from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.
The service members, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with their branch of service, each carried in hand a small U.S. flag.
It was unclear exactly how many members of the San Diego gay pride parade’s military contingent were on active duty. Several participants who spoke to Reuters had recently left the armed services.
Under the military’s existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, service members are barred from saying they are gay or lesbian, and that has until now discouraged some members of the military from participating in gay pride parades.
Organizers said the San Diego contingent, which included straight supporters also in the armed services, represented the largest group of members of the military to ever march in the city’s gay pride parade, or any similar U.S. event.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said Defense Department regulations do not prohibit service members from marching in parades while wearing civilian clothes, and that participation in a gay pride parade “does not constitute a declaration of sexual orientation.”
All branches of military service were represented in the parade, including the Coast Guard. Many onlookers stepped into the parade route to salute them.
Video and more photos from Rex Wockner, are here.