Gay Military Weddings

Feb 20, 2024 | marriage, Military Wedding, Wedding

In recent years, the celebration of love and commitment has transcended boundaries, including those within the military community. Gay military weddings represent a significant milestone in the journey towards inclusivity and acceptance within the armed forces. This article explores the evolution of LGBTQ+ rights in the military, the challenges faced by couples, and the joyous celebrations that follow.

 

The Evolution of LGBTQ+ Rights in the Military

In 1994, the United States implemented the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy concerning the military service of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members. This policy was widely regarded as discriminatory, as it prohibited individuals in the military from openly acknowledging their sexual orientation, under the threat of discharge. The underlying premise of this policy was flawed, assuming that the presence of LGBTQ+ individuals within the military would disrupt military operations. Throughout the duration of the policy, more than 12,000 service members were discharged solely due to their sexual orientation and relationships.

But things have changed a lot over time. One big step forward was in 2011 when they got rid of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Those who had been previously discharged from service due to their LGBTQ+ status were given the opportunity to re-enlist, while prospective recruits were assured that they would not encounter discrimination when seeking to serve their country.

 

Persisting Stimgas Against LGBTQ+ Military Couples

Despite the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, challenges persist for LGBTQ+ couples in the military. Namely, social stigma and discrimination within the military community remain prevalent, requiring couples to navigate carefully. In a compelling piece featured by the Center for American Progress, Cadet Rivera shed light on the persistent stigma faced by his LGBTQ+ peers, revealing how they were frequently labeled as “not masculine enough to serve” by their peers. Even more troubling, Cadet Rivera detailed instances where friends were unfairly denied advancements in their military careers simply because of their LGBTQ+ identity.

 

Factors to Consider When Planning a Gay Military Wedding

Planning a wedding can be a huge undertaking for any couple, but for LGBTQ+ military couples, there are some extra factors to think about. They have to find vendors who are supportive and understanding of their needs, as well as figure out how to work with military rules and regulations for their ceremony and benefits. Let’s dive into some of the factors to consider when planning a gay military wedding.

Finding LGBTQ+ Friendly Vendors

One of the initial hurdles for gay military couples is locating vendors who are supportive and open-minded. Whether it’s photographers or venues, it’s essential to choose vendors who value diversity and grasp the special aspects of LGBTQ+ weddings. This helps in crafting an environment that is inviting and accepting for all involved.

We did some digging for you and found some awesome ways you can find LGBTQ+ wedding vendors. According to the New York Times, there are inclusive directories of vendors available like Equally Wed, Offbeat Wed, and Black Gay Weddings. Additionally, utilizing search terms such as “gay wedding planner,” “gay wedding photographer,” or “queer florist or ally” can also aid in finding suitable options.

Symbolism of Military Elements in the Wedding

Including military elements in a wedding adds a special touch that goes beyond just celebrating love. It’s a way for the couple to honor their service to their country and the values they hold dear. Whether it’s wearing dress uniforms or incorporating military wedding traditions like the saber arch, these symbolic gestures are a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces.

Here are just a few of the different ways you can use military symbolism at your wedding: 

  • Wear dress uniforms or incorporate military-inspired attire.
  • Have the newlyweds walk out of the ceremony through the sword arch. 
  • Use military-themed decor such as flags, insignias, or camouflage accents.
  • Incorporate military symbols into the wedding invitations, programs, and other stationery, such as the Marine Corps symbol on the bottom of the wedding invites. 
  • Include a moment of silence or tribute to honor fallen comrades.
  • Display photographs or memorabilia from the couple’s military service time together.
  • Offer military-themed favors or keepsakes for guests to take home.
  • Play patriotic or military-themed music during key moments of the ceremony or reception.
  • Include a toast or speech recognizing the couple’s service and dedication to their country.

Seeking out Support Systems: Family, Friends, and Allies

When it comes to planning a gay military wedding, having a strong support system is absolutely essential. Family, friends, and fellow military members are there to offer not just practical help, but also emotional support every step of the way. They’re the ones who understand the unique challenges and joys of being in a military relationship, and they’re always ready to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Whether it’s assisting with wedding arrangements, providing a shoulder to lean on during stressful times, or simply cheering the couple on with love and enthusiasm, these support networks are invaluable in making the wedding day truly special and memorable.

Love Knows No Boundaries: Stories of Resilience

Amidst the challenges and obstacles, let’s hear some stories of love and resilience abound within the LGBTQ+ military community on Reddit. From overcoming discrimination to finding acceptance and support, these narratives inspire hope and remind us that love knows no boundaries.

Lesbian Military Partners: The Story of a Same-Sex, Dual-Military Couple

Reddit User u/chibirachy explained on a post about same-sex couples in the military, and she talked about her experience as a partner in a dual-military, lesbian couple. Here’s what she had to say:

“. . .So I met my wife when she was in the Reserves. Both of us were out, so her soldiers knew it, and the educators I worked with knew it. I even got to go to a couple of family day events with her unit. After we got married, she decided to do Call to Active Duty, and was accepted. After some additional schooling, we PCS’d to our first duty station. At no time has she ever had to hide that she’s got a wife, or gotten any flack for it. We are both tomboys, she more masculine than I. We have run into a couple of other lesbian couples here. I wouldn’t say we’re in a big liberal location either. Now we’re expecting our first born (I’m the carrier), and her soldiers have all been super excited, and will often ask how I’m doing. We even did a social distanced gender reveal at her office. She is not enlisted, and went the officer route, just to make a note of that.

Other than all that, I don’t think what we go through is any different than any other married military couple.

A Story About Love in Basic Training

We turn to our next lovebirds, who actually met and fell in love in basic training. Reddit User u/ blueveinedlion tells their love story below:

We met in the reception period, which is the ten day or so time period in which they train on how to march and other things. This way when you actually go to BCT they don’t have to waste their time with that stuff, for the most part. The first time we met was actually in the restroom. We accidently switched our PCs (hats) in the restroom quite a few times. To this day, because it happened so many times, I remember thinking how odd it was.

We actually were so serious about the Army and fraternization (forgive me if that’s butchered) that we did not share our first kiss until the very last night that we were in training. . . . Every night we would sneak to each other’s bunks and just stay up way too late talking.

Finally after a few months, we made it official, and here we are!

Conclusion

In conclusion, gay military weddings represent a triumph of love over adversity, a testament to the resilience and courage of LGBTQ+ individuals serving in the armed forces. As we celebrate these joyous unions, let us continue to advocate for equality and acceptance within the military and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gay Military Weddings

Let’s keep the questions rolling… below find some of your most commonly asked questions about gay military weddings.

Q: Are gay military weddings legally recognized in all states?

A: Yes, thanks to Obergefell v. Hodges, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, prohibiting states from banning same-sex marriage. 

 

Q: Are there any specific regulations or guidelines for gay military weddings?

A: There should not be any discriminatory practices against LGBTQ+ members, even in the military, so the wedding protocols and regulations should be the exact same as an opposite-sex couple getting married.

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