LGBT veterans memorial in California one step closer to reality

CATHEDRAL CITY — A State bill that would make a Cathedral City memorial California’s official LGBT Veterans Memorial is at the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

AB 2439, which also would make California the first state in the nation to dedicate a memorial recognizing the service of LGBT veterans, has passed the Assembly and Senate and was heard in the Assembly yesterday for concurrence. The bill was then sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia ( D-Coachella) authored the bill.

“California must honor all the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” Garcia, (D-Coachella) told Q Voice News in May. “This memorial is a testament to honor the contributions the LGBT community has made to the security of the United States.”

The Cathedral City memorial, dedicated May 27, 2001, features an obelisk with an eagle and a pink triangle.

LGBT Veterans Memorial

California could be the first state in the union to have an official LGBT veterans memorial. AB 2439 would establish the LGBT Veterans Memorial at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City as the official state LGBT veterans memorial. Photo: Office of Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia.

Presidents Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama and California Governors Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jerry Brown all have sent special letters praising this memorial.

Tom Swann, founding chair of AMVETS Post 66 and a driving force to have the LGBT veterans memorial dedicated in 2001, approached Garcia last year with the idea of making it the official state LGBT veterans memorial.

“If AB 2439 becomes law, California will become the first state in America to honor the brave sacrifices of LGBT veterans. Many of these heroes died in silence because they were forced to conceal their sexual orientation,” Hernandez said. “California should lead the country in honoring these brave soldiers.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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