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California the first state to dedicate memorial for LGBTI veterans

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The Desert Memorial Parks’ LGBTI Veterans Memorial located in Cathedral City has been dedicated as the state’s official memorial for LGBTI veterans and is the first of its kind in the United States of America.

The legislation was introduced by Assembly member Eduardo Garcia who said that it was an honour to play a role in being able to help California continue to lead in equality and inclusion, and recognised the efforts since the early 2000's to accomplish this historic feat.

“The sanctioning of this first of its kind, veteran memorial demonstrates our immense gratitude for the valiant contributions of LGBTQ veterans, true American patriots, who placed their lives on the line to defend the liberties we enjoy daily," said Garcia.

"Their sacrifices, in spite of obstacles and facing discrimination, more than merit the honor of a dedicated memorial site and sacred space for their loved ones to mourn the loss of these heroes."

While Australia does not presently have a similar memorial, in 2015, DEFGLIS renewed the commemoration of service and sactifice of LGBTI service members by laying rainbow wreaths on Anzac Day.

AMVETS Post 66 Founder/Commander and longtime LGBTQ advocate, Tom Swann Hernandez had been instrumental on both this legislative endeavor and the memorial’s genesis.

“California is leading the nation by honoring the heroes, many of whom have had to die in silence because they were forced to conceal their sexual orientation," said Hernandez.

The Palm Springs Cemetery District Board’s vote to approve this very controversial proposal came nine years before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but was vetoed by the state government.

Palm Springs Cemetery District Trustee, Lenny Pepper said that the monument in question was proposed like all others on our grounds; in this instance, to pay tribute to LGBTI Americans, patriots who served their country proudly.

"A profound truth of Cemeteries in general and Desert Memorial Park in particular, is that all who are at eternal rest within our boundaries, have equal status,” said Pepper.

The City of Cathedral City, sponsor of AB 2439, holds a 100% rating by the Human Rights Campaign for diversity, was the first city in the Coachella Valley to pass a gender-neutral bathroom ordinance as well as to establish a Rainbow Crossing outside their civic center and now they will become the first city in the nation to house an officially designated LGBTQ Veteran Memorial.

The historic memorial, the first of its kind in the entire United States, will be a place for family, friends, and residents to gather in paying tribute to and find solace in their memory.

Image by California State Assembly Democratic Caucus

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