Troops Allowed to March in Gay Parade

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For the first time ever, the Defense Department said it will bend the rules and allow pro-gay military members to wear their government-issued uniforms in a San Diego parade on Saturday.

The memorandum stating the allowance was sent to all military branches, even though military policy generally bans troops from marching in uniform in parades.

The Defense Department made the decision in anticipation of the national attention surrounding the event and because organizers had encouraged military personnel to participate in their uniforms.

The Pentagon said the allowance is only for this years parade in San Diego and does not extend beyond that. Military personnel wearing civilian clothes do not need permission to march in any parades.

This weekend, participating troops must still strictly adhere to military policy regarding behavior while in uniform. The policy states that uniformed personnel cannot appear to endorse or selectively benefit groups or individuals, provide a platform for a political message, or appear to be commercially sponsored.

They also must ensure their presence in uniform is not intended to increase sales and business traffic.

Thursday's move came only weeks after the Pentagon joined in marking June as gay pride month and made an official salute to gay and lesbian service members.

More than 300 service members are expected to participate this weekend in the parade.

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.

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