May 28, 2015 at 9:28 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT service members honor fallen at Arlington, Congressional
Memorial Day, gay news, Washington Blade

LGBT service members participated in wreath laying ceremonies at Arlington and Congressional cemeteries last weekend. (Photo courtesy of the D.C. Center)

A contingent of active duty LGBT service members and LGBT veterans placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday.

The LGBT contingent consisted of members of American Veterans for Equal Rights and the Military Partners and Families Coalition. AVER represents active duty military and military veterans who are LGBT. MPFC represents families and partners or spouses of LGBT active duty service members and LGBT veterans.

One day earlier, on Sunday, May 24, a contingent of five representatives of the two groups placed a wreath in Congressional Cemetery at the gravesite of Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, the first active duty member of the U.S. military to come out as gay.

Army veteran Danny Ingram, former president of American Veterans for Equal Rights and one of the organizers of the Arlington Cemetery wreath-laying ceremony, noted that the Matlovich tribute on May 24 took place on the 40th anniversary of Matlovich’s historic 1975 “coming out” in a cover story in Time magazine.

Ingram said Army Specialist 2 Jesse Dennis played “Taps” on a trumpet as the wreath was laid at the Matlovich grave.

He said two LGBT active duty members of the Army and Navy joined him in laying the wreath at the Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington Cemetery as a military official announced the names of the two groups.

The two LGBT military groups laid their wreath at the famous Tomb of the Unknowns about an hour after President Obama placed a presidential wreath there before joining other dignitaries at a ceremony in the nearby Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater. A member of each of the two groups carried their groups’ respective flags, including a rainbow flag, as part of a procession related to the Amphitheater ceremony.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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