San Diego Pride is this weekend, and for military members participating in the parade, there is a significant degree of confusion surrounding whether service members may wear their uniforms while marching. A service member may not march during the pride parade in uniform unless he or she has received individual approval from his or her command. For more detail, OutServe and SLDN have issued guidance on uniforms at pride.
The confusion seems to have started when San Diego LGBT Pride, the organization responsible for the parade, issued a news release saying that "active duty servicemembers have received approval from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and their commanding officers to march in the America’s Pride Parade Military Contingent while wearing their uniforms." Several service members had received such approval, but no blanket approval covering the San Diego Pride parade was ever issued. The ambiguity in the press release is made clear on the organization's website where military members sign up to march, where the requirement to get pre-approval is explicit.
But a Navy official in San Diego, responding to the confusion, issued a statement saying that the San Diego Pride's press release "is not accurate. There is no such authorization [to wear uniforms while marching] for this parade."
The bottom line, as stated above, is this: it is the responsibility of each service member who wishes to wear a military uniform to pride to obtain individual command approval for doing so.
UPDATE: July 19, 2012, 2:30 p.m. EDT
It has been reported that the Navy (and the Navy only) has given permission to sailors to march in the parade in uniform. According to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Navy spokesperson Brian O'Rourke said that "sailors can march in the Pride Parade in their uniforms but are reminded to obey all Navy and military regulations prohibiting such things as participation in political activities or protests."
It would seem, then, that the Navy has provided blanket approval for sailors to march in uniforms. For members of all other services (including the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard), yesterday's guidance continues to hold true: it is the responsibility of each service member who wishes to wear a military uniform to pride to obtain individual command approval for doing so.
UPDATE: July 19, 2012, 5:20 p.m.
The guidance covering the San Diego Pride parade's military contingent continues to change.
Finally, the Department of Defense has spoken. In a memorandum from the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach, the DoD says the following:
"we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year's parade, provided service members (1) participate in their personal capacity and (2) ensure the adherence to Military Service standards of appearance and wear of the military uniform. This approval is applicable for individual participation in the 2012 San Diego Pride Parade only."
This means that anyone serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or National Guard may wear their uniform to march in the San Diego Pride parade's military contingent, providing they adhere to all other service regulations governing conduct.
07-19-12 By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director |