The American Military Partner Association is the nation’s largest resource and support network for LGBT military partners, spouses, their families, and allies. Founded by the partners of active duty servicemembers, AMPA has grown to the strength of over 28,000 members and supporters, and we are proud to be leading the nation in education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families.
Connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT servicemembers 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 servicemembers, we are committed to 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 our AMPA New Military Spouse Mentor Program designed to connect new military partners and spouses to more experienced ones who can help guide them on their new journey in serving our nation.
- Through our AMPA Rainbow Railroad, a volunteer network of host families for couples traveling to get married in marriage equality states.
- Through educational events and webinars designed to inform and support our military families.
- Through virtual support with LGBT military family issues.
- By highlighting resources available to our families.
- By highlighting our families and the challenges they face in our Faces of Our Families project.
- Through community service projects like our AMPA Care Package Drives.
- By giving voice to the unique perspective of our families through our AMPA Military Partners 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 gay military partners/spouses and families.
A Proven Record: Our Accomplishments
Since our founding in 2009, the American Military Partner Association has managed to:
- Create a home on the web for the military partner community, complete with an open forum, 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 servicemembers
- 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 gay and lesbian troops
- Hold a “Lobby from Home” week where AMPA members around the country met with their members of Congress back home in their districts
More ideas, events, and initiatives are also currently in various stages of development to support and connect the military partner community nationwide.
AMPA was launched originally in 2009 as the “Campaign for Military Partners” sponsored by Servicemembers United. This first-of-its-kind initiative grew substantially over the course of the ensuing two years and graduated to become the American Military Partner Association on September 20, 2011 – the day that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law was officially repealed. When Servicemembers United wrapped up it’s successful efforts, AMPA organized as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization at the end of 2012. Incorporated by Stephen Peters (spouse of an active duty Marine), AMPA’s founding board members are Stephen Peters, Ashley Broadway (spouse of an active duty soldier), and Jim Cassidy (spouse of an active duty sailor). Read more about our leadership here.
Throughout the years of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, gay and lesbian servicemembers 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 servicemembers 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 servicemember was deployed overseas.
It is this disadvantaged plight that motivated Servicemembers United and the American Military Partner Association 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, the American Military Partner Association began as an effort to identify, connect, support, and recognize the often ignored and frequently isolated civilian partners of gay and lesbian military personnel. The initiative has grown to include hundreds and hundreds of military partners across the country and even across the world.
The American Military Partner Association has also worked tirelessly to spread the word about the existence and unique needs of the partners of gay and lesbian servicemembers. Dozens 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 helping military partners for more than two years.
The American Military Partner Association launched and maintains the website MilitaryPartners.org as the internet’s premier information resource for the partners of gay and lesbian servicemembers. We have engaged in a systematic outreach campaign to military partners in order to let them know about our organization and the resources and network now available to them and to make them start to finally feel like a welcomed part of the wider gay and lesbian 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 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 the American Military Partner Association. 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 servicemembers, 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.
The American Military Partner Association also initiated a series of nationwide events primarily focused on gay and lesbian 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 military partner social events usually occur, we launched the first-ever private online social network exclusively for the partners of gay and lesbian servicemembers 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.
These efforts, programs, and initiatives have all dramatically impacted the lives of a largely hidden and unrecognized community for the better. Our members have identified this initiative as a way for them to finally feel like a part of their servicemembers’ lives and to help them better understand and support their partners’ careers. We have also provided this community with an otherwise absent information resource and a comforting support network, all constituting an especially critical lifeline while their partners have been deployed. And each time we identify new members and bring them into the fold of the American Military Partner Association, 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.