When you marry someone in the military, there are things about your life that will change drastically. We all know that. How you live, where you live, how long you’ll get to stay at a job, whether you’ll even find a job—these uncertainties, and many more, come with the territory. Even the presence or absence of your spouse in your household is no longer something you always get to decide.
Military spouses and military children are expected to make these sacrifices for the sake of our nation’s military every day. The missed birthdays, the school play Mom or Dad couldn’t come see, the graduations, births, deaths, joys and disappointments we experience without a member of our families are all part of this life. Some of our brothers and sisters face the enormous challenges of welcoming home a beloved service member who must now rebuild their lives because of a war-related injury, or cope with unimaginable heartbreak when a loved one doesn’t come home at all.
One of the ways the military has traditionally acknowledged these sacrifices is to assure military members that, come what may, their families will be taken care of. From the routine—PX access, health care, housing allowances—to the extreme—SGLI, survivor benefits—military families know that their basic needs will be met. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it doable. That is, unless your spouse is the same gender as you are.
I reached out to Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), an organization that provides support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families, because I know how hard this life can often be, even with the benefits extended to heterosexual married service members and their families. I also got in touch because every day I look around our beautiful neighborhood in San Diego and see the joy, companionship and acceptance woven into the fabric of this diverse community as couples of every variety hold hands, fall in love and share their lives. All military members can now openly experience this joy in their relationships, too, and that’s an enormous step forward. But we need to do more.
June is LGBT Pride Month. It is a perfect time to renew our commitment to support ALL military families. Families serve too, and military families deserve to be given the gratitude and the benefits to which they are entitled, regardless of their family composition. They’ve earned it, just like heterosexual partners and families have, and the American public wants to thank them the same way they thank us. In fact, there should be no “them” or “us.” MPFC is working to make this ideal a reality, and I’m proud to stand with them as an ally military spouse.