The San Diego LGBT Pride Festival is scheduled to begin Friday, with a parade set for Saturday. The Defense Department directive came after the Navy Region Southwest in San Diego authorized sailors to march in their uniforms, NBC7, San Diego, reported.
The decision was based on provisions of the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on U.S. military service by gays and lesbians, the TV station said, citing a memo sent Thursday to all branches of the military from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense in Washington, NBC7 reported.
"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."
Active duty military personnel with retirees last year marched in the San Diego event, wearing T-shirts with graphics representing their particular service branches.
San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director Dwayne Crenshaw issued a statement saying the organization "is honored to have the privilege of celebrating our country and our servicemembers with dignity and respect."
"The fight for equality is not over and it is not easy, but this is a giant leap in the right direction," he said.