In 2010, I messaged Stephen Peters and what was then known as the Campaign for Military Partners. For 13 years, I felt like I was the only same-sex military partner; each of us existed in our own solitary, hidden double lives as “sisters,” “cousins,” or “roommates.” That message changed everything.
In just a few short years, our military has seen an inordinate amount of significant changes. From the fall of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in September 2011, to the partial dissolving of the Defense of Marriage Act, the implementation of same-sex spousal benefits, and full spousal recognition in 2012. These historical events have impacted our lives tremendously. We are no longer standing behind the crowd as we watch our service member pin on their next rank. We are no longer waiting in our car, outside of an installation, as our spouse returns from a twelve month deployment. We no longer worry who will be notified if our spouse is fatally wounded; we are finally the legally recognized husbands and wives of the greatest Americans.
LGBT military spouses now have a seat at the table, a table comprised of all military spouses who work toward the same mission: supporting our service members as the home base. These military families, gay or straight, have rallied behind AMPA’s mission as well: equality. Although these past four years have seen unimaginable change, we must continue AMPA’s mission. Unlike our straight counterparts, our LGBT families are still often separated due to outdated Status of Forces Agreements that still need to be updated by the United States and host nations. Military chaplains continue to deny services to our families because of outside pressure from endorsing agencies. Transgender service members cannot serve openly and honestly due to outdated regulations. Our spouses in uniform are not officially protected in the military equal opportunity program or non-discrimination policy.
Today, I write to you as the new president of the American Military Partner Association. Within the next two years, my wife will be planning for retirement. It is more important now than ever that we leave behind a military that supports and protects the very people who serve and protect our nation; our families will have full equality. I am honored to continue the work built on the foundation that Stephen Peters, our founder and president emeritus, has solidly constructed. Together with our all-volunteer team, I look forward to tackling each inequality our families continue to face, and to connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT service members and veterans – our nation’s modern military families.
In service to you and our families,