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Troops get OK to march in gay parade in uniform

BY JULIE WATSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- About 200 active-duty troops participated in last year's San Diego gay pride parade, but they wore T-shirts with their branch's name, not military dress.

This year for the first time ever, U.S. service members will be able to march in a gay pride event decked out in uniform.

In a memorandum sent to all its branches, the Defense Department said it was making the allowance for the San Diego parade on Saturday - even though its policy generally bars troops from marching in uniform in parades.

The Defense Department said it did so because organizers had encouraged military personnel to march in their uniform and the event was getting national attention.

Former sailor Sean Sala, who organized the military's participation in the parade, said he wanted service members to wear their official uniform this year to show there is no longer anything to hide.

"My soul is on fire," he said after hearing the news Thursday. "They don't fight in T-shirts. They fight in uniforms. This is about showing who they are."

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