It has been five years y’all! Yes, that’s right, five years since marriage equality was achieved with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Windsor case. Those of us in the military will remember that this equality was achieved just two short years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” As military families, we have much to celebrate with this milestone anniversary. So, how do we celebrate? We celebrate by continuing. We continue this journey, and we continue to make progress for our families and the families of the nation we serve.
As a chaplain and a person of faith, I believe our celebration includes gratitude to our creator. It is right to thank God, however you know God, for this achievement and the progress made over the past several years. I believe God is Love and this anniversary is a celebration of love. A few weeks ago, I was asked to give the invocation at a Pride Month event on post. As I looked out in the audience I saw gay, straight, allied, and transgender Soldiers. I reminded the crowd of the truth that God is love and all humankind is made in the image of God. Today, we celebrate the value of all of God’s people and the beauty of love — love that God created!
To continue this celebration, we must continue to work. We all know how far we have come in the past five years and how much the world has changed. But, there is still plenty of work to do! We must continue to be a part of the military community. Since we gained the legal right to be a part of the military community, we have a moral obligation to be active participants in it. We must be active in our military support groups, our places of worship, and our community. As we continue to contribute to our communities, our families will see greater acceptance and will be valued for the positive impact that we make in our communities.
Now, I know there have been great strides towards acceptance. But, I am not naïve to the fact that our families still face challenges. This is where we must continue to challenge the system, where we must continue to demand fair and equal treatment. From personal experience, I know that it can be scary to stand up for what is right. But, we must. While we celebrate this milestone, we must commit to continue the fight for equality and refuse to let our nation or military regress to the past.
With all the changes in society and the military, I believe we have many reasons to be hopeful about the future. Marriage equality is now the settled law of our nation and woven into the fabric of our society. Our military has embraced marriage equality and what was once something new and frightening is now the norm. Society has answered the question on gay marriage. It is closed. While there will always be those who oppose us, there are more who support us. As military members and partners, we continue to make both our nation and our military a great place. I am hopeful about the future, I am thankful for today. Pro Deo et Patria!
Chaplain (CPT) Donald Fulton is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. He holds degrees from Auburn University and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. CH (CPT) Fulton is an active duty Army Chaplain with nine years of service. He and his husband live in Richmond, Va.