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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 15
Jill & Michelle tour leaves Gay military families out
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Jill & Michelle tour leaves Gay military families out

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On April 12, first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden kicked off a nationwide tour 'to address the unique challenges' faced by military families.

Is anyone in need of a little sand thrown in their face? Well here it is: The White House launch event did not include representatives for Gay military families.

'The president has been crystal clear that the administration is moving forward with the repeal of DADT quickly and efficiently,' Kristina Schake, communications director for Mrs. Obama, told The Advocate. 'However, it still remains a law. The White House, including the first lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of Gay and Lesbian servicemembers after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect.'

It doesn't give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about the success of a repeal, does it? Maybe someone should inform the president that actions speak louder than words. The service chiefs came forward last week to say that Gay troops could serve out in the open as soon as September. So, if they know that to be the truth, why not invite Gay families to the table now?

The irony of the situation is that the two-day military family tour to bases in North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio will highlight some of the so-called ongoing challenges resulting from a DADT repeal; in part, how to put Gay spouses and partners of servicemembers on equal footing with their straight counterparts wherever possible.

The logic that the White House is using to deal with this challenge is mind numbing. In other words, heterosexual women are going to travel from base to base to tell other heterosexual spouses how to include Gay and Lesbian spouses in base functions. Unbelievable.

'There really is no reason to continue to exclude Gay families or their advocates from the first lady's events for military families,' said Alex Nicholson, executive director for Servicemembers United. 'It would be a lot more practical to make a gesture of inclusion for the White House event than a gesture of inclusion for events around the country.'

Once again, partners of Gay and Lesbian military members are left asking, 'What about our benefits?'

Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, partners of Gay servicemembers are not only denied crucial benefits such as health care, but are faced with day-to-day limitations including access to child care and commissaries.

'We're a lot tougher than people give us credit for. That said, there are some challenges and difficulties,' one partner of an active duty Gay service member (who requested he not be named) told The Advocate. 'At the moment, I can't even buy a stamp on base. That's pretty sad. Our primary interest is just being treated the same as other military families. We're not looking for anything novel beyond that.'

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