Ding dong, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell really is dead. The Marines showed up with a booth at a Pride event in Pasadena, California:

With the official repeal last month of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Marine Corps, the service that was most opposed to ending the policy, appears to be leading the charge into new recruitment territory.

The end of the hush-hush era opens up another qualified pool of applicants, said Sgt. Monique Wallace, marketing and public affairs representative for the Marine Corps’ Recruiting Station Los Angeles.

Carlos Ramirez, a board member of San Gabriel Valley Pride, said he believed that his group’s Community Unity Day was the first Southern California pride event to host military recruitment. San Gabriel Valley Pride is a nonprofit group dedicated to raising awareness about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture. Other pride groups in the region, Ramirez said, had held events before Sept. 20, the formal end of the military’s 17-year policy that barred gay men and women from serving openly in the military.

Here is the part that will annoy Tony Perkins:

Tom Carpenter, a former Marine fighter pilot and a member of the board of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he was impressed “Marines are leading the charge.” He said the move would improve the pool of candidates strained by two wars.

“They had tens of thousands of felony waivers, and they were taking people convicted of drug use,” Carpenter said. “This will increase the pool of people available and allow people who want to serve the country to join.”

Translation: with gays allowed to serve openly, the quality of recruits will go UP, which will make the military, even the Marine Corps, ultimately stronger. Sorry, bigots.