Since the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” in 2011, there have been no rules barring the US Armed Forces Color Guard from participating in gay rights events. Still, every year they were requested to accompany those participating in the Gay Pride parade by Capital Pride, they turned the request down.
For the very first time, in 2014, the answer was ‘yes.’
Following Dykes on Bikes in the Capital Gay Pride parade in Dupont Circle this Saturday, a US Armed Forces color guard will be marching alongside the rainbow flags. The eight person team, according to The Washington Post, will be one of the first groups in the 1 1/2 mile parade.
A Department of Defense spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said that there was no way to confirm if it was truly a historic first because support for parades is decided on a local level. It’s possible that another area had the support of their local color guard and the media simply failed to pick up on it.
Christensen also said that this was not the first gay pride event that an Armed Forces color guard has attended. Apparently, the color guard performed at the Pentagon last year for a Defense Department pride event. They performed there again on Thursday for another pride event.
Of course, the color guard being provided to the Gay Pride Parade in D.C. is the guard that presents colors for the president, Congress members, and at various state functions.
There was an approval letter sent to Capital Pride, the organizers of the parade. It allowed the unprecedented existence of the color guard with only one caveat: “Please note this appearance is subject to preemption by the White House or other official military requirements.”
Easily it’s an acceptable stipulation when any US forces take part in a recreational activity.
Capital Pride is thrilled to have a show of support from the military. Despite warnings from other gay rights organizations, such as OutServe, his group wasn’t afraid of possible rejection letters. They had to keep trying.
“We knew we might get turned down, but we asked and they said yes. I think that’s very significant,” Bernie Delia, president of Capital Pride, said.
This show of support comes on the heels of 19 states passing laws permitting same-sex couples to marry, including Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arkansas, all of whom recently legalized gay marriage.
[ Image courtesy of In Focus ]