Roughly 40 service members, some retired, marched in Saturday's San Diego Gay Pride parade, marking the first time in U.S. history that active-duty members of the military have been allowed to march in uniform in a Gay Pride parade.

The Department of Defense on Thursday announced its approval, saying it was allowing the exception because organizers had encouraged military personnel to march in their uniform.

A contingent of about 200 active-duty service members last year marched in San Diego's parade. But troops were not allowed to participate in uniform; instead they wore t-shirts with their branch's name.

Nearly 200,000 revelers cheered loudly as the service members passed.

Sean Sala, a former sailor who help organize the action, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the gay troops deserved to be recognized.

“I think everybody wants to make it a gay thing, but it's just an American thing,” he said. “These are people that have laid down their lives for their country, you know, and they deserve recognition for their service regardless of their sexuality.”

“Today is a great day of Pride! San Diego Pride is honored to have the privilege of celebrating our country and our service members with dignity and respect,” said Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride.

The move comes just weeks after the Pentagon celebrated Gay Pride for the first time.

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