An Assembly Bill now on its way to the California senate floor could name the first official LGBT Veterans Memorial in the state and in the country, that memorial happens to sit in the Coachella Valley.
Assembly member Eduardo Garcia is the lead author of AB 2439 that aims to designate LGBT Veterans Memorial inside Cathedral City’s Desert Memorial Park as the state’s first official memorial for the queer community who served in the military.
Garcia said, “Want to make sure the LGBT community is not forgotten in the process of serving the armed forces.”
The LGBT Veterans Memorial in Cathedral City became a reality in 2001 after lots of effort by Thomas Swann Hernandez he is a U.S. Marine Veteran and founder of American Veterans Post 66 in Palm Springs. Hernandez said he fought for the memorial to honor those who were not able to openly love their same-sex partners while serving their country.
“A lot of times they died in battle, the same sex partner was not able to participate in the military funeral,” Hernandez said. “Where people can come and have closure a piece of mind and pay respect to their loved one.”
Assembly Bill 2439 passed the house floor unanimously, the state Senate is next.
The Mayor Pro Tem for Cathedral City, Gregory Pettis, said he is glad the LGBT Veterans Memorial in his city is a step closer to becoming the first official veterans memorial for gay military members in the country.
Pettis said, “We’re hoping that we will get another unanimous vote and get it off to the governor for signature.”
He said the memorial should be a source of pride for the local community, but he does admit there is still ways to go when it comes to fully accepting others. Pettis reference the Trump administration’s position to bars some in the trans-community from serving the military.
Pettis said, “We’re still hopeful President Trump lets go of the issue of continuing to try to ban trans-gender individuals because anyone who wants to serve their country should be able to.”
The bill is set to go for a third read by the state Senate on Monday.