The American Military Partner Association is the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by the partners of active duty service members, AMPA has grown to the strength of nearly 40,000 members and supporters and is proud to be leading the nation in education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families. Through our unprecedented work, we’re building strong resource and support networks like no other.
Connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT service members and veterans - our nation’s modern military families.
How We Accomplish Our Mission
As a non-partisan, 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by the same-sex partners of active duty service members, we are committed to education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families. We work to accomplish our mission by connecting our LGBT military families, supporting them through the challenges of military service, honoring them for their commitment to our country, and serving them by advocating on their behalf. Check out some of our accomplishments in Agents of Change: 2012 in Review and Year of Change: Our 2013 Accomplishments.
- Through the nation’s largest Private Online Support Network for LGBT military partners/spouses designed to create a supportive and educational environment
- Through local AMPA family networks across the country and around the world
- Through national and local events around the country designed to build a support network to bring together LGBT military families in a positive environment to foster communication and mutual support
- Through educational events and webinars designed to inform and support
- Through direct support on LGBT military family issues
- By connecting our families to vital resources to help with military life
- By highlighting our families and the challenges they face in our Faces of Our Families project — helping to change hearts and minds with personal stories, photos, and videos
- Through community service projects like our AMPA Care Package Drives
- By giving voice to the unique perspective of our families through our AMPA Modern MilSpouse Blog
- By advocating and educating on behalf of our LGBT military families in public policy, highlighting our unique needs and challenges
- By encouraging the expansion of resource and support services available to LGBT military families
- By educating the public through stories in national, regional, and local media on the plight of LGBT military partners/spouses and their families
A Proven Record: Our Accomplishments
Since our beginning in 2009, the American Military Partner Association has managed to:
- Create the nation’s largest resource and support network for the LGBT military family community, complete with an open forum, local networks across the country and around the world, a military partner blog, a list of recommended resources, and a running list of media related to military partner issues
- Survey the military partner community for the first time about the unique challenges and issues faced by them specifically, and gay military couples generally, and present those results in a special report to the Pentagon
- Facilitate a first-ever meeting between Pentagon officials and the partners of active duty gay and lesbian service members
- Hold an inaugural Military Partners Forum in Washington, DC
- Launch an annual National Gala in Washington, DC, connecting LGBT military couples from around the country
- Successfully pitch story after story to national, regional, and local media on the plight of gay military partners and families
- Initiate a Military Partner Brunch series in numerous cities around the country to bring together our community for mutual support
- Initiate events around the country to bring LGBT military families together in a positive environment to foster communication and mutual support
- Initiate care package drives around the country for our deployed LGBT troops
- Hold a “Lobby from Home” week where AMPA members around the country met with their members of Congress back home in their district
- Launch an AMPA Rainbow Railroad, a volunteer network of host families for couples traveling to get married from marriage inequality states to marriage equality states
- Represented by Lambda Legal and Morrison and Foerster LLP, AMPA filed suit against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs arguing that the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses of veterans living in states that refuse to recognize their marriages is in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
More ideas, events, and initiatives are currently in various stages of development as we work in education, advocacy, and support for the LGBT military family community nationwide.
AMPA traces it roots to the “Campaign for Military Partners” — an unprecedented effort launched in 2009 to connect and advocate for the same-sex partners of service members living under the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Then sponsored by Servicemembers United, an organization working for the repeal of DADT, it was the first-of-its-kind movement to bring support to these hidden partners and their families who were also forced to live in the shadows under DADT.
After the successful repeal of DADT, AMPA organized as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization at the end of 2012. Founded in the city of Washington, DC, by Stephen Peters, the spouse of an active duty Marine, AMPA continued to revolutionize and shape the movement working to bring full equality to these modern military families. Along with a dedicated team of volunteers, Stephen was joined by founding board members Ashley Broadway, spouse of an active duty soldier, and Jim Cassidy, spouse of an active duty sailor. Read more about our leadership team here.
Throughout the years of DADT, gay and lesbian service members were forced to either forego a relationship and a family or go to great lengths to hide their relationships in order to continue to serve in the armed forces. This situation rendered the committed civilian partners of gay and lesbian service members virtually invisible. They could not be acknowledged, they could not be brought to unit or military functions, they could not access spouse and family support networks, and they were denied the family readiness services made available to the spouses and partners of heterosexual troops. This isolation was always particularly devastating when same-sex couples had to move together to rural posts and bases and especially when the active duty service member was deployed overseas.
It is this disadvantaged plight that motivated AMPA (then called the Campaign for Military Partners) to step up back in 2009 and begin to serve this underserved – and often ignored – part of our American military family. In the true historic tradition of military spouses pulling together and figuring out how to support one another on their own during World War II and the Vietnam era, AMPA began as an effort to identify, connect, support, and recognize the often ignored and frequently isolated civilian partners of gay and lesbian military personnel. Today, the initiative has grown to include thousands of LGBT military partners and spouses across the country and around the world making it the largest organization of its kind.
Since its inception, AMPA has worked tirelessly to spread the word about the existence and unique needs of the partners of LGBT service members. Hundreds of stories were successfully pitched to major national media outlets, resulting in a national spotlight being continuously shown on these silent heroes for the first time in American history. But simply drawing the public’s attention to the plight of isolated and under-supported military partners was only the start of how we have been shaping the movement.
AMPA launched and maintains the website MilitaryPartners.org as the online premier information resource for the partners, spouses, and families of LGBT service members. We continue to engage in an a systematic outreach campaign to LGBT military partners to bring them into the organization, helping make them start to finally feel like a welcomed part of the wider military community. After proactively building up a membership, we conducted a first-ever survey of military partners in order to identify and explore the unique needs, challenges, and issues they face on a regular basis. This information was aggregated and analyzed, and it formed the basis of an informative, one-of-a-kind report on gay and lesbian military partner and couple issues submitted by Servicemembers United to the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The 2010 Comprehensive Review on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” also provided the context for another unique and extraordinary contribution of AMPA. In September of that year, we convened the first ever Military Partners Forum, held in Washington, D.C., which for the first time brought together a truly diverse group of gay and lesbian military partners in one place to meet, network, connect, and support one another face-to-face. As part of that event, Servicemembers United arranged for a private meeting for this group of partners with the co-chairs and senior staff of the Comprehensive Review Working Group at the Pentagon. This was not only the first time that the Department of Defense had ever officially recognized and interacted with the civilian partners of gay and lesbian service members, but it was later recognized by the Working Group’s co-chairs as one of the most profound, informative, and helpful meetings for them throughout the entire nine-month review process.
AMPA also initiated a series of nationwide events primarily focused on LGBT military partners and couples, including periodic brunches, happy hours, and other opportunities for our members to meet one another, bond, and receive the support and camaraderie they desperately need. And in order to connect and involve those who are not near major military population centers where our social events usually occur, we launched the first-ever private online social network exclusively for the partners of LGBT service members and veterans. The private online network, accessible by joining at MilitaryPartners.org, allows members located anywhere to plan events, search for new friends, and share experiences and updates in a confidential and supportive environment.
After the repeal of DADT, AMPA sparked the national dialogue on the impact of marriage inequality on the spouses of service members who were denied access to the military benefits and support systems offered to the opposite-sex spouses of service members. Sharing story after story, we pressed for full and equal benefits for the same-sex spouses of service members. After the partial fall of the Defense of Marriage Act thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Windsor case, and the eventual recognition of the same-sex spouses of service members by the Department of Defense, AMPA continues to advocate for full LGBT equality in the United States military. From highlighting the impact of marriage inequality and discriminatory policies in various states around the nation, to working to achieve equal veterans benefits for our LGBT veterans and their families, to working to improve the lives of our families by changing hearts and minds — as well as outdated policies – AMPA continues our important mission in education, advocacy, and support.
These unprecedented efforts, programs, and initiatives have all dramatically impacted the lives of a largely hidden and unrecognized community for the better. Our members have identified our work as a way for them to finally feel like a part of their service members’ lives and to help them better understand and support their military careers. We’ve also provided this community with an otherwise absent information resource and a supportive network, all constituting an especially critical lifeline while their partners are deployed. And each time we identify new members and bring them into the AMPA family, they all have some variation of the same reaction – “I wish I would have found out about this group years ago.”
The American Military Partner Association has been on the front lines of honorably serving this unique constituency by identifying, connecting, supporting, and finally recognizing them as a part of our wider military community, and we are proud to continue our mission.