Faces of Our Families

By David Small

These are the faces of gay and lesbian military families. Some are legally married in states that allow same-gender marriage. Some are engaged. Some have entered into legally recognized social contracts and get state benefits. Some have been together for decades. Some are newlyweds. All are in loving, stable relationships, facing the joys and tribulations that come with any partnership, gay or straight. And all are military families living under the difficulty imposed by the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the Department of Defense from providing the same level of support and recognition to them as it does to their straight counterparts—counterparts who likely have very similar photos as these.

Despite having a husband, wife, and possibly children, these military breadwinners are barred from earning “with dependent” allowances, as if their dependents don’t exist. The spouses in these pictures are challenged to change duty stations with their military partner and give up medical insurance from their stable jobs because they don’t have access to Tricare. Status of Forces agreements with countries abroad don’t provide for these military spouses, so if they accompany their husbands and wives overseas, they have to fend for themselves. While the military has made some accommodations for these same-gender military families, the support programs offered on base can be difficult to attend because these spouses don’t have dependent ID cards to get through the gate, even if just to pick up their children from on-base daycare. And were the military partners in these photos to give the ultimate sacrifice in service for their country, benefits do not exist for those who survive their gay partners, even though these spouses may have sacrificed their own career advancement to raise their families. Such survivor benefits do exist, however, for straight military couples.

Gays and lesbians proudly served in the military under the finger of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” finally achieving recognition of their service in 2011. Gay and lesbian families proudly support their military partners, fathers and mothers today without federal recognition of their social contracts. No matter people’s religion or moral beliefs, these are real families because they support one another and have chosen to support their service member’s call to duty. It’s time for the United States to recognize their sacrifice too.



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