The Department of Defense has authorized a U.S. armed forces color guard to march with the American flag as well as flags of each branch of the military in Saturday's Capital Pride gay celebration parade in Washington.
According to The Washington Post,
the eight-member color guard will follow Dykes on Bikes and immediately precede the Capital Pride lead banner and grand marshal Chris Kluwe, a former punter with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and author of the book "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies,"
at the start of the 1.5-mile parade.
An approval letter sent to pride parade organizers last month said the color's guard's participation was "subject to preemption by the White House or other official military requirements,
" the Post reports.
That has not happened.
"We knew we might get turned down, but we asked and they said 'Yes,'" Bernie Delia, president of the board of directors for Capital Pride, told the Post. "I think that's very significant."
The color guard for the Capital Pride parade will be provided by the United States Military District of Washington, which normally presents colors for the president, members of Congress and other state functions.
There is no government policy that prevents U.S. military color guards from participating in gay-rights events, but since Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed in 2011 many such events nationally have had requests for color guards rejected by local military offices, The Post notes.
Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Department of Defense spokesman, could not confirm whether the military color guard's participation in Saturday's event will be the first of its kind because those decisions are typically made at a local level, the Post reports. He did tell the Associated Press
that an Armed Forces color guard performed at the Pentagon last year for a Defense Department pride event.
Lt. Col. Todd Burton, a founding member of Outserve, which has tracked the color guard issue and repeatedly sought to win approval for one at a pride event, said that to his knowledge Saturday's is a first, the Post reports.
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