San Diego County residents showed their support for the gay community at Pride at the Beach festival on the Oceanside Strand Saturday.
Stephen Peters, a former Marine, whose partner is an active duty officer at Camp Pendleton, was posted at the Servicemembers United tent, which had the flags of each military branch as a background.
He has seen the Marine Corps take an active role in last month’s repeal of the policy.
"Going into it, they were pretty resistant," he said. "As soon as they knew what was going to happen, they jumped on board."
The repeal meant no new adjustments to Derek Butti, a navy noncommissioned officer in the 32nd St Naval Station, San Diego, who had been openly gay, even before the repeal.
“Nothing has changed since the repeal,” he said, adding that fellow gay sailors in his unit had also been fairy open before the repeal and can now be even more frank with members of their units.
The event is in its fourth year and growing, said Max Disposti, executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. Last year, more than 2,500 people attended the event, including some 200 members of the military, he said.
Events like this, he said, have helped North County residents be more accepting of the gay population.
"This shows the north county community that LGBT people are everywhere," he said.
The military community has made great progress in accepting homosexual service members but there are still some challenges to be met, said Jerry Tetalman, a candidate for the new 49th Congressional District. The next step, he said, is to make sure to get military family benefits to same sex spouses.
“That should be equal,” he said. “That has to be done at the federal level