BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – It was a historical moment that moved an estimated 200,000-strong crowd to whistle, cheer and applaud as several hundred members of the military marched in San Diego's Pride parade July 21 — the first time that the US Defense Department allowed personnel to wear their uniforms in a gay parade.
The Los Angeles Times reports that all branches of the military were represented, led off by Marine Sergeant Bris Holland, who wore her dress blue uniform and carried the US flag. Walking behind Holland, who served two tours in Iraq, was her seven-year-old son, Kannon, and her partner, Jax Jacquez.
"It's been a long time coming," Holland told the Times.
Also in uniform was Navy Petty Officer Erica Tello, who was with her partner, Danielle Pinango, and their three-month-old son. "Being able to wear our uniforms says that we really are equal, at last," Tello said.
Many others observed that military service has changed significantly since the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that prevented gay people from serving openly.
There was some uncertainty in the leadup to parade day as to whether military personnel would be able to march in uniform. But a deputy assistant secretary of defense gave members the green light.
"Based on our current knowledge of the event and current policies, we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year's parade."
The Times says it's not clear whether that policy applies to other Pride parades.
For more coverage, including video of military personnel on the march, check out the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.