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San Diego Military Members Can Show Their Pride - In Uniform

Evening Edition

Above: Sean Sala, a Navy veteran and participant in the military contingent for San Diego Pride parade.

Aired 7/19/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Dwane Crenshaw, San Diego LGBT Pride, executive director

Sean Sala, Navy veteran, participant in the military contingent for SD Pride parade.

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Request for Guidance Regarding the San Diego Pride Parade

Request for Guidance Regarding the San Diego Pride Parade

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The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride parade in Hillcrest. Shot July 17, 2009.
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Above: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride parade in Hillcrest. Shot July 17, 2009.

Organizers of San Diego's Pride Parade said this year will be the first in history when gay military servicemembers can wear their uniforms while marching in the parade. Last year, servicemembers wore t-shirts emblazoned with their military branches, but not their actual uniforms.

But Sean Sala, a Navy veteran and organizer of the military contingent for the parade, told KPBS that a letter from the Navy confused the issue. The San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reported a top Navy official said there is a Navy ban on sailors marching in their uniforms at civic events.

"It caused a lot of uproar, and then at the end of the day, there was a different ruling," Sala said.

A Navy spokesman later told SDGLN that sailors can march in the Pride Parade in their uniforms.

Sala said an admiral in Navy Region Southwest told them all sailors can wear their uniforms with permission from their commanders. He added that commanders are expected to grant permission.

Sala said it's important for military members to be able to wear their uniforms because "they don't fight in t-shirts, they fight in uniforms."

"If a straight person wanted to participate in a Martin Luther King Day parade, it wouldn't be a question," he said.

Sala said there is taboo around gay pride parades, but they're working to end that, to show that "gay is not political."

San Diego's LGBT community has a lot to celebrate heading into this weekend's annual Pride Festival. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed, federal courts in California ruled for marriage equality and Hillcrest now has a street named after gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk and a large rainbow flag.

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