Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
About 200 active-duty troops and veterans wearing T-shirts advertising their branch of service marched Saturday in San Diego’s gay pride parade with American flags and rainbow banners, marking what is believed to be the first time a military contingent has participated in such an event in the U.S.
Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military’s ban on openly gay troops. The march comes a day after a federal appeals court reinstated “don’t ask, don’t tell” but with a caveat that prevents the government from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.
National Guard member Nichole Herrera, 31, said she didn’t think twice about marching, even though the policy is back on the books. She said she was “choked up” several times as she walked down a main thoroughfare in San Diego, a major Navy port.
“This is one of the proudest days in my life. It’s time for it (the policy) to be gone,” Herrera said. “I’m a soldier no matter what, regardless of my sexual orientation.”
The crowd roared as the group waving military flags and holding placards identifying their military branch walked past the thousands.
Every branch of service was represented Saturday, including the Coast Guard. Marines and sailors ran out carrying their branch’s flags over their heads. One Marine stopped to pose with two towering bikini-clad blondes in stiletto-heeled boots.
Bravo! The salute is overdue. Wish my cousin Billy was alive to see the Navy allow him public pride.