Dear National Military Family Association,
In May of 2012 at the Outserve “Our Families Matter” summit, I asked your organization to include same-sex military spouses for consideration of your military spouse scholarship. When asked why your organization was excluding them by requiring a military ID card, your Government Relations Director, Kathleen Moakler, said it was simply a “matter of paperwork.” I was hopeful then that you would take action to include all military spouses. I also followed up with this request to Ms. Moakler by email after the summit.
Sadly, to date, nothing has changed. Eight months later as we move into the New Year, your requirements still exclude same-sex military spouses from competing for the scholarship. As you are aware, because of out-dated Defense Department regulations, our same-sex spouses are denied military identification cards. Because your organization wishes to support all military families, I again humbly ask you to change the eligibility requirements for your scholarship. As I originally suggested in May, a simple fix to the “matter of paperwork” could be requiring a marriage certificate.
The challenges all military spouses face in terms of paying for education to enable them to find a job that will help “contribute to their family’s financial security,” as your mission states, is well recognized by your organization. Your scholarship could particularly assist same-sex military spouses given the financial constraints they face in light of regulations currently excluding them as military dependents. For example, same-sex military spouses do not have access to the same education assistance as their married heterosexual counterparts. Nowhere else would your scholarship make a more significant financial and educational impact in terms of achieving your organization’s mission than with our LGBT military families.
In North Carolina, another organization, the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses, recently denied one of our members admission to their spouse club on the basis that she did not have a military identification card. Fundamentally, you are doing the same thing by denying same-sex spouses the ability to apply for your scholarship. As a national organization whose mission is to support all military families, I know you’ll take the lead in sending a strong message that the exclusion of our families is simply wrong.
I hope you will take action in changing the eligibility requirements for your spouse scholarship and include same-sex military spouses. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you.
President, The American Military Partner Association