Today marks one year since the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy forbidding lesbians and gay men from serving openly. That was, without a doubt, one of the biggest steps towards LGBT equality in our history—but LGBT servicemembers still do not have equal rights. LGBT parents in the military are among those continuing to tell their stories and inspire change.
One of the problems is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which means that even when same-sex couples are legally wed, the military will not provide the spouse with the benefits and support it gives to opposite-sex spouses, as I’ve written before. The other problem is that the military still does not permit transgender people to serve.
Here are some of the stories of LGBT parents in the military. I am inspired by their strength and infuriated by the injustice they face. Among all the inequalities—from a lack of spousal health insurance to the inability of a same-sex spouse to shop on base—what hits me hardest is the months of separation some of these families face when the servicemember is stationed overseas. If same-sex spouses were recognized, the military would pay for the spouses and child(ren) to join them. As it is, they must endure months apart with only brief visits over several years. I miss my son when I am away for a few days on a business trip; I can’t imagine what these families must feel.
Read their stories, and reflect on how far we have come—but how far we have yet to go.
From the American Military Partner Association, the nation’s network of partners and spouses of LGBT troops and veterans:
- Sandy (Marines) and Patricia, and their two teens
- Celeste (Army) and Summer, and their infant daughter
- Heather (Army) and Ashley, and their two-year-old son
- Kim (Navy) and Adaire, and their two children
- Rob (Army) and Bobby, and their 17-year-old son
From a campaign by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe, in which same-sex military couples wrote to Congress:
- Victoria (Army) and Monika, and their three-year-old daughter
- Erwynn (Air Force) and Will, and their four children (11, 11, 9, and 9)
From The Advocate: