Friday, June 26th marks the 5th anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark civil-rights case where the supreme court deemed marriage equality a constitutional right for LGBTQIA+ couples. By 2015 only a few states still had a ban on same-sex marriages. But it was this historic ruling on June 26th, 2015 that not only granted the freedom to marry who you choose but also the legal protections and provisions that any marriage allows.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” (source)
There are amazing stories of love and triumph circulating for Pride month, but how many are about LGBTQIA+ families in the military?
It is our honor to share these four beautiful stories from LGBTQIA+ military families in our global community to help us all celebrate marriage equality!
*some of the following names, photos, and identifying details have been altered to respect the privacy of these families.
Amanda and I are from the same town. Our paths must have crossed at least a dozen times unknowingly, one of which was when the Spice Girls came to town when we were in middle school. We were both there singing proudly with every song. But we never truly met until the time was right.
She was home on leave a few years ago when our paths crossed again and were finally introduced by mutual friends. I was not looking for a relationship, but it was hard to ignore this beautiful woman in front of me. As Amanda headed back to her duty station on the opposite side of the country, we kept in touch. We found we were texting each other every day, and the more we talked, the more I fell for her.
Knowing deployments were looming, I wanted to see Amanda. I often jump without looking, and I bought a plane ticket from our hometown clear across the country to where she was stationed in Virginia. I simply sent her my flight information and asked, “Can you pick me up at the airport?”
Amanda was shocked. She had been stationed in VA for two years, and no one, not even her family, had visited her. Yet here I was, nearly a stranger, who wanted to fly across the country just to get to know her better. Her response? She bought me a ticket for the week before so we could spend even more time together.
As I was walking towards the baggage claim, I suddenly got nervous. “What did I just do? Am I crazy to have spent this money and flown so far for someone I barely know?” But then I saw her. She ran up to me and hugged me and kissed me. I wasn’t nervous anymore.
Leaving her at the end of that trip was so hard. In the few short weeks we had spent in person, I knew I wanted to spend my life with her. When you know, you know!
Even Amanda, who does not jump in with two feet like I do, knew we needed to be together. So I flew home to California long enough to pack all my belongings in my car and drove to Virginia to Amanda and my new home.
We’ve been together for two years. I love being a military spouse. Amanda’s command has welcomed me and has been so supportive of us.
At first, I was nervous to get involved in any spouse club or activity. How are they going to react to me as a stay-at-home-wife saying my wife is overseas? But I quickly learned that I can be my true self within our military community. We are thinking about growing our family; we have had issues with TriCare covering fertility options for non-heterosexual couples, which is frustrating. But overall, I love being a military spouse.
If I could give one piece of advice to other military spouses, it is to always stay true to yourself. Life has a funny way of working out; just trust the process.
I met Taylor on a dating app. I wasn’t too serious about it; I was getting out of a bad relationship, and so was she. Taylor kept swiping through the profiles, but every time she got to my picture, she couldn’t bring herself to pass it by. I had seen her name so much that I decided to message her. We lived an hour away in separate towns in Virginia. But we made time to spend time together and get to know each other.
We quickly became two peas in a pod. I was hesitant, but one day she said, “I like you. I need you to talk to me.” I guess I really liked her too! As our relationship progressed, we talked about getting married. I had a baby and a toddler who adored her already, and so did I. We were ready. But we were scared to tell our parents. Her first wife left her high and dry with not as much as a forwarding address or number, and I was going through issues with my kids’ father.
And then Taylor got orders to Washington. “D.C.?” I asked. No. Washington State, all the way across the country. She gave me an ultimatum: She loved me, she loved my kids, she wanted to be with me. She needed us to come with her to make our relationship work. I helped her file and process her divorce from her first wife; we got married; we moved, all together as a family of four, across the country.
I’ve tried to embrace this duty station, but having family far away is hard, and going through a deployment during a pandemic without extra support has been harder.
Our son, who is now 5, really misses his Mamma. He doesn’t understand why she’s not here and why we won’t see her for a long time. This is his first time away from her since he was a baby, and it breaks my heart and gives me whiplash seeing him go from crying his eyes out to overwhelming with anger at the drop of a hat. It’s a lot of emotions for him to process. It’s a lot for all of us to process!
Our family has been very welcomed here. When I go to spouse functions, everyone assumes that everyone has a husband. So they are very surprised when I say that’s it’s my wife that serves. People always feel really bad and apologize, but I am not offended and don’t mind.
My advice to other moms is to take time out for yourself. Don’t hold it all in like a dam until it cracks and breaks. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, take time for yourself!
It all started at Pride a few years ago.
I noticed a beautiful woman staring at me. I couldn’t resist talking to her. She was absolutely breathtaking to me. We started hanging out and talking.
After about a month, I noticed she was struggling with an addiction. I am the daughter of an addict, so I knew what to look for. Jackie has been hurt and walked through hard times. Do I know her pain first-hand? No. But I do understand how it feels to be alone, wanting to be loved and wanting to be cared for.
I knew at that moment that I was not letting her go.
I have been there for her, supporting her sobriety. Jackie has since overpowered her addiction for the sake of our son and I. The road to sobriety isn’t easy and will never be over. But she continues to move forward because she wants to be the best wife and mother she can be.
We’ve struggled as a military family because of extended deployment cycles and navigating a new state alone during deployment (and during a pandemic too!). As a mom, it’s hard to see our 4-year-old son struggle missing his mommy and not understand. But I’ve found a great group of other wives to help me get through. They are like family to me, and I couldn’t have made it this far without them!
My advice to other moms is that no matter what happens, stay strong! While your spouse is gone, do all that you can for your child and for yourself. Stay busy and active. This time you will get with your child you will never get again; they grow fast! Don’t always focus on the negatives, and try to remember that everything will work out.
My name is Elizabeth. My pronouns are her/she, and I am bisexual. My husband’s name is Chris. His pronouns are he/him, and he is pansexual.
We met through mutual friends. We started out as friends with benefits when out of nowhere he asked me out. We got married when I found out I was pregnant and before he went to basic training.
We have been at four duty stations in his military career. It’s been fun. We’ve had mostly good experiences, except for some death threats from some wives at our last station. We teach our kids to love and are raising them to love all and defend the defenseless. I want my children to know that every person has worth no matter their race or sexual identity. I want to show them it’s ok to be who you are.
Last year we, as a family, marched in the San Diego Pride parade. That was when my husband officially came out as Pansexual. I was so proud. Our children marched with us. We wanted them to see and feel the love.
My advice to parents is to always love their children no matter what. I have lost dear friends because of the shame their parents felt surrounding their children’s sexual identities. It’s easy to say you love your children unconditionally, but please always put that love into action. Show them, every day at every age, that you see them and love them for who they are.