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Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, received word from military officials that Germany has finally been added to the list of duty assignments outside of the United States available for same-sex couples. Previously, same-sex spouses of U.S. service members were denied “command sponsorship” to duty stations in Germany due to concerns that they were not covered under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). While opposite-sex spouses were able to accompany their service member to their new duty stations, same-sex spouses and their children were left behind.

“A huge burden has been lifted off of the shoulders of so many of our military families,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “With thousands of service members stationed in Germany, this was a serious concern that our families still faced after the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the eventual recognition of same-sex spouses by the Department of Defense. This is incredibly welcome news for so many service members who had to leave their families behind or go through extraordinary lengths to stay together.”

“A ton of stress will be alleviated by finally not having to worry about whether or not I can remain in the country with my wife,” said Misty Gilmartin, spouse of an active duty Air Force Technical Sergeant stationed in Germany. “It’s such a relief to know that I will finally be supported just like opposite-sex spouses have been all along.”

Germany hosts an estimated 43,000 U.S. military personnel.

Resolution of remaining concerns with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is also a high priority for AMPA and LGBT military families. With an estimated 30,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there, continued problems remain for issuing necessary SOFA visas to same-sex military spouses. LGBT service members with a same-sex spouse are often faced with a very difficult situation of choosing between their family and a duty station that would benefit their military career.

Previous to the addition of Germany and as of April 2015, over 40 countries had been added to the list of available duty stations.