On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that designated an official LGBTQ Veterans Memorial at Desert Memorial Park, a cemetery in Cathedral City. Desert Memorial has actually had the memorial since 2001, but this move makes it recognized as California’s official LGBTQ veterans memorial. California becomes the first state to have one.
“The concept behind this project is to create a memorial garden where military veterans can inter all or a part of their cremains/ashes amid a community of other proud veterans,” the website for the memorial says. “It is to be a place of honor where friends and family members my go to remember and pay homage to their loved one.”
Tom Swann Hernandez, a former Marine and U.S. Navy Reserve, has been an advocate for this memorial. At an event in July, prior to Gov. Brown signing the bill, Hernandez spoke about the significance of the memorial.
“What made our memorial so controversial, so important and so historic was, for the first time, we openly said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans – people who died in war – deserved their own memorial, not a memorial that says ‘We honor all veterans,’” Hernandez said to.
State recognition of the memorial couldn’t be coming at a more important time. With trans folks in the military currently under attack from the Trump, California is taking a step to combat the issues impacting LGBTQ members of the military and recognize their efforts.