02:44 | 26th April 2019

News: World

Wed 10 Jul, 2013
By Robert Ingham

as gay service members march this weekend in the San Diego Pride parade, it’s a new world

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Gay Service Members Marching To Their Own Beat

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It’s been a whirlwind three years for gay service members in the US.

In 2010, it was still illegal to be out in uniform under the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. By September 2011, being out was fine, but gay marriage in California wasn’t legal and the Defense of Marriage Act prevented the military from offering benefits to same-sex spouses married in other states.

So, as gay service members march this weekend in the San Diego Pride parade, it’s a new world.

The Supreme Court’s reversal of DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 late last month means that gays can serve openly, can marry in California and have their marriages recognized by the military.

Formerly closeted troops say they are reveling in the 180-degree change in circumstances.

“When she calls work, my sailors give me the phone and say, ‘It’s your wife,’” said Elny McKinney, a Navy senior chief sonar technician in San Diego. “That sums up everything.”

Gay service members have long attended San Diego’s Pride weekend, billed as the largest civic event. But several tell stories of having to hide, or drop the hand they were holding, when encountering a co-worker.

Elizabeth Barraza, a Navy hospital corpsman for 10 years, remembers standing in the crowd during the 2011 San Diego Pride parade — one of the first she had the nerve to attend. The end of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy was two months away. But service members were still cautious. Those who marched wore plain gray T-shirts that noted Navy, Army, Air Force or Marine Corps.

Barraza and her partner, Ashleigh, openly cried as they watched the T-shirted troops march by.

“I still wasn’t comfortable at the time putting myself out there like that. I didn’t participate, but I was there in spirit. I was just happy we had representatives available to do that,” Elizabeth Barraza said this week.

“I’m going to cry now just thinking about it. It was amazing, it really was,” Ashleigh Barraza said.

Source: U-T San Diego
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