Published: Jul 19, 2012 6:32 PM EDT

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - The Department of Defense said Thursday it will allow service members to march in uniform in a gay pride parade for the first time in U.S. history.
    
The Pentagon issued a military-wide directive saying it was making an exception to its policy that generally bars troops from marching in uniform in parades.
    
The exception was being made for San Diego's Gay Pride Parade that will take place Saturday.
    
The Defense Department said it was making the exception because parade organizers had invited service members to march in uniform and the matter was getting national attention.
    
The exception is only for this year's parade in San Diego and does not extend beyond that, the Pentagon said.
    
Parade organizers welcomed the news.
    
"San Diego Pride is honored to have the privilege of celebrating our country and our service members with dignity and respect,"  said San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director Dwayne Crenshaw. "The fight for equality is not over and it is not easy, but this is a giant leap in the right direction."

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