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Don't Ask, Don't Tell

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Anyone have a DP in the military?

My DP is thinking of joining and I am freaking.
The whole DADT thing scares me. She's looking @ Reserves but could enlist for active duty.
How does a gay family cope with an EXTREMELY un-gay friendly environment?

Help!
She is going to talk to a recruiter soon but I want to talk to people who have btdt.
post #2 of 16
I saw this in New Posts and wanted to make sure you're aware of this organization:
http://www.sldn.org/
Maybe something there will help in some way.

Good luck to you all!
post #3 of 16
One of my colleagues has done extensive research on DADT, and what he calls the "GUN" - the Gay Underground Network. Another colleague does research on military families, based on what they told me, NO. Under no conditions is it a smart move for a queer person with a family to join the military.

First - the military is very pro-family. It is in your best interest to get married and have kids in the military, it will boost your pay, your spouse and kids have opportunities available to you that they wouldn't if you worked most blue-collar jobs. This only applies to straight men who are in the military (unless women are married to men who are happy to be stay at home parents/work part time).

Second - the military is very anti-gay. Your family would not be recognized - none of the perks available to military wives and children would be available to you. Think life insurance, death benefits, pension plan, not just military housing or health insurance.

Plus, there are no guarantees. Your wife would always have something that could be used to get rid of her at any moment.

Last, it's very hard to be a military spouse. When their husbands are deployed, military wives are responsible for all of the childcare, household work, etc. It's like being a single parent for months at a time. The frequent moves from place to place make it nearly impossible for most military wives to have an established career, unless she can telecommute 100%. Yes, it's possible to have a job, but you can count on moving every two years.

Remember - you're a gay family that the military doesn't recognize. You can count on moving every two years and paying for it yourself - they'll move your DP's stuff, but single soldiers don't get to move their "friend and her kid" on the military's tab.

I'm very, very, very, anti-military (especially US Military) so I'll put that bias right out there, my brother is a reservist, my grandparents were military during WWII, I grew up in a military town. I have friends who enlisted, I have a high school buddy who was killed in Afghanistan.

If I were in your shoes and my DP was seriously considering joining the military, knowing all the stuff I outlined above, I would see it as a disavowal of our relationship and our family. If my DP was actually going to join the military, I would kick hir to the curb. I know that's pretty harsh, and I'm not saying you should do that, just to be clear.
post #4 of 16
I am bi, married to a male. I'm considering joining the military, but will not do it, for both ideological and personal safety reasons, until DADT is repealed.

I don't want to be involuntarily closeted. I don't want to have something like that which could be used against me were it to come to light. I know someone who was dishonorably discharged due to being a lesbian - it impacts not just your military career, but future civilian career options as well. Not a risk (no matter how small) I want to take for myself and my family.
post #5 of 16
I am a bi military Mom married to a Naval Officer.
I also have a closeted (only professionally) cousin who lives with his partner about 90 minutes from where he works to be able to "live together" without fear.

I pray every day for the end of DADT - it's my biggest deal with Obama and if he fails me on this I'll be LIVID.

I would never, outside of the repeal of DADT, and possibly not even then - suggest a family consider joining the military.

It is a bastian of conservative society - I'm constantly having to pick my battles when at "mandatory fun" work cocktail parties. Although promotion is not based on family in the first ten years I've seen it more and more a factor past that point - and making it to the "magical" 20 (or 26 depending on who you ask) is based on those promotions.

So no, I'd never even consider it in your situation and I wish often we were not already so far in that it's pointless to leave so close to the end.
post #6 of 16

Ask and Tell

I was military for years and married to a man while I was in. We have children together who are now covered under his military benefits though we are divorced.

If you have children who are legally bound to her then they will enjoy all the benefits of the vast military arsenal (pun intended).

The truth is that there are few places where you can earn as much and have that measure of benefits. The other side of that truth is that you will absolutely be an outsider. It is NOTpossible to be openly gay - even in your own home sometimes. You will have to always live off-base and never have military friends. Which probably won't be a problem because they are all Republicans anyway.

If she is wanting to join to further herself in a career it's a good move. If she is needing the health benefits then it's a good move. If she wants adventure and excitement and a great resume then it's a good move.

You just have to be aware of what you are getting yourselves into. You CANNOT be open to anyone. You will not enjoy any of her benefits which isn't really a problem if you don't expect or envy others who do.

Okay so you just have to do a pro/con list and have a good understanding of what kind of life you'll have. Certainly people have sacrificed more for less and you just need to really talk about if this is a sacrifice you want to make.

I would love to continue this discussion.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am so torn.
She is at the recruiter now, talking, asking questions etc etc.

The benefits are damn good and the opportunities are as well.
It just doesn't make sense (to me) that while she would be getting all of this... I would sort of be left on the sidelines.
I couldn't live on base. She couldn't live off base.
We would basically be living apart for however many years she'd be going.
I couldn't do that. She says she won't do it if that's the case.

So, she's looking into the National Guard. Still, I fear for her getting "caught being gay" and then kicked out.

She and I are going to have a long talk about all of it tonight and I really thank you all for all of the advice and perspective you have given me!
post #8 of 16
Elle - keep in mind you are TTC.

How is DP going to feel when you get pregnant? How connected will she be to that child? Without a biological connection (unless I'm wrong on that) and without a social connection (i.e. she won't be there, dya in, day out, she won't be able to be open about her child with her colleagues).

I guess what I'm asking is - are you prepared to be a single parent with a partner who is absent and who is not parenting on a daily basis, if at all?

What happens if your child is seriously ill? Or you are SERIOUSLY ill - and when I say SERIOUSLY, I mean, like the kind of things they would send a soldier home from deployment to tend to, although I suppose I'm assuming the US military even does that, I don't know. Keep in mind, she can't be open about your relationship, it wouldn't be smart to do a second parent adoption under these circumstances.

Finally - if she joins, and worse case scenario, the biggest con of them all, dies, you will get NOTHING from the military. As far as they are concerned, neither you nor your child will exist.

I know I wouldn't be ready to sign on for any of that. I'd be out the door so fast, DP wouldn't even make it home from the recruiter.

Is she having a pre-parenting/TTC crisis? Does she just want to get away from her life? Is counselling an option for you? Is there some issue between you two that she doesn't want to deal with?
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellephant View Post
I am so torn.
She is at the recruiter now, talking, asking questions etc etc.

The benefits are damn good and the opportunities are as well.
It just doesn't make sense (to me) that while she would be getting all of this... I would sort of be left on the sidelines.
I couldn't live on base. She couldn't live off base.
We would basically be living apart for however many years she'd be going.
I couldn't do that. She says she won't do it if that's the case.

So, she's looking into the National Guard. Still, I fear for her getting "caught being gay" and then kicked out.

She and I are going to have a long talk about all of it tonight and I really thank you all for all of the advice and perspective you have given me!

It really sounds like you are unsure about this and she'll definitely be able to answer more of your questions after she talks to the recruiter. But she must be careful as recruiter will often say anything to get you to join. They get a monthly bonus based on the number of people they enlist.

She will not be allowed to live off-base until earns a certain rank. She will probably have to live in barracks until she's a sergeant.
post #10 of 16
If she's going in as enlisted it can be even worse - like PP have said she can't live off base for a long time.

With deployments (which no matter what the recruiter says WILL happen in the first year post boot camp, bar NOTHING) you will not be able to be on the "phone tree" that is for parents/spouses/children so when dates change, an emergency happens, etc. you will hear NOTHING. Let's say she's due home on the 11th of this month - but she can't call you while in transit nor can you be on the "family only" list to meet them on base at the airport so you are in a hotel waiting for her to call near the random far away base she's flying into and she's 5 days late. No way for you to know, all alone.

And DADT won't fix this - unless marriage rights exist on a Federal level - because it is up to the discretion of every Commanding Officer if fiancee/girlfriends/boyfriends are included on that list and most don't, and I can't imagine the (mostly) Republican military officers are going to add on same-sex partners without being told they have to.

She won't be able to give her military benefits to your child by 2nd parent adoption without a federally recognized marriage, which does not yet exist.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
As of right now, we are discussing reserves (national guard). It gets her all of the great benefits but without (hopefully) being shipped off somewhere and us having to live apart. If she does join, it will be just one term(?) and then we will see from there.
It's still up in discussion big time though. Nothing is signed yet. Just talking.

papa - she was thinking enlisting because of the way the economy is, it seems nothing is certain and just about everyone we know is getting laid off. she's afraid of not being able to provide for us and just wanted something steady and "recession proof".

IDK. I want her to do what would make her happy. She has always talked about the military. I want her to feel like she can provide for us. I just don't want to spend so much time apart.
post #12 of 16
It is hard to be gay/bi or even "too open-minded" in the military. My father is in the army (and he's NOT a republican, thank you to whoever made that blanket statement...). We do get a significant amount of help from the government.....but he's married to my mom. Like someone else said, the government will take care of you and your dependants, but not your partner. Until we have the same rights as they do, and we actually have the word "marriage", they will NOT cover the OP or women (and men!) like her.

Personally, I would not join the army. I am bi and even though I am moving in with my boyfriend (whom I will VERY likely marry within the next year or so) and , from the outside at least, it looks like we're just a "normal" straight couple living "normal" straight lives, it would still be dangerous for me. Someone said something about how they knew someone who was dishonorably discharged for being gay--this kind of shit happens all the time. I like girls too, therefore, my job security if I were a solider plummets.

*sigh*
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellephant View Post
As of right now, we are discussing reserves (national guard). It gets her all of the great benefits but without (hopefully) being shipped off somewhere and us having to live apart. If she does join, it will be just one term(?) and then we will see from there.
It's still up in discussion big time though. Nothing is signed yet. Just talking.
Hey Elle, any news on this front?

I asked one of my students about this, he's in the National Guard and just missed a bunch of class because he was at a training weekend (24 hrs on, each day from Thursday 6:00 PM through Tuesday 6:00 AM - they call it a weekend, but by my count, that's almost a week!)

He told me a bunch of useful things:
1. There are lots of gay girls in the military - he'd rather work with them than flirtatious straight girls, and the administration pretty much looks the other way.

2. National Guard units will almost certainly deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, and the only way out of it is if you've already served overseas with another military unit, in which case they'll send you overseas two years from now.

3. It's really hard on relationships - he's married, and finds it very difficult to balance the National Guard with having a relationship.

Hope that helps.
post #14 of 16
Interesting article on the subject: Kansas Army Guard discharges gay soldier
http://cjonline.com/stories/020809/kan_385832549.shtml
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Right now... nothing new to update. She's still just thinking.
She hasn't mentioned much about it.
post #16 of 16

Btdt

Hi.
I served in shame for 8 years, Reserves and National Guard. I didn't have a family at the time, I didn't even have a full identity until I had been in for a few years. I joined when I was 18. I loved a lot of stuff about the Mil, the clothes, the adventure, the camping, but what I hated was the fact I had to pretend I was someone else when I was doing it. And in this period in the US, one in which the numbers in the military are so low that Reserve and NG units get deployed often enough for it to be trend, there is NO WAY i'd do it to my family. I am the non-bio mom. And being closeted is not an option...it's not fair to my son, my partner, or myself. I don't want my son to grow up in fear of our relationship, or in fear of who will find out and what impact it might make. Even when Obama gets around to repealing DADT it's still not going to change people's minds or grant those great benefits to you and your future child. As GREAT as Obama is, he's not into the real rights of the GLBT community. But that's another topic.

If your GF needs someone to bounce stuff off of, please tell her she can contact me. Just send me her address in a PM. I am not the queen of knowledge in these affairs, but I can give her an honest perspective of pros and cons.

Categorically, I think it's a awful idea. And there are other recession proof jobs with less danger to her body and your relationship.

I hope I've not come on too strong.

Sarah
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