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Service members allowed to wear uniforms at gay Pride Parade

Just a day before celebrations begin for this year's San Diego LGBT Pride Festival, the Department of Defense authorized all service members to wear their uniforms during the Pride Parade.

The announcement comes after a Navy Region Southwest authorized sailors to march in their uniforms. Thursday's announcement is the final word for all members of the military.


Read the original story on NBC San Diego.

Approval was largely made acceptable by this year’s repeal of the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense in Washington sent a memo to all branches of the military Thursday afternoon granting the approval.

"Based on our current knowledge of the event and existing policies," the memo read, "we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year's parade, provided service members participate in their personal capacity and ensure the adherence to Military Service standards of appearance and wear of the military uniform."

Service members are prohibited from representing their military service to campaign for political candidates or engage in fundraising. Asked if marching in a gay pride parade could be considered a “political statement,” a senior military official told NBC News that the request received a lot of attention at the Pentagon and, given the “sensitivity of the issue,” permission to march was granted. 

Local commanders previously had the authority to grant military personnel to wear their uniforms. However, approval at a higher level was granted "now since the event has garnered national media attention," the memo stated. 

It was a first last year, when active duty military personnel joined retirees to create a nearly 200-person strong group in San Dego's Pride Celebration. They wore t-shirts with their branch of the military on them.

"Today is a great day of Pride! San Diego Pride is honored to have the privilege of celebrating our country and our servicemembers with dignity and respect," said San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director Dwayne Crenshaw in a statement.

“The fight for equality is not over and it is not easy, but this is a giant leap in the right direction.”

NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski contributed to this report.

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