On September 30, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the law which compels military personnel to not reveal their homosexuality will be gone. President Barack Obama certified its repeal on July 22. The time for military bases and communities to prepare for this change is growing short. What does the repeal of DADT mean for the straight spouses of closeted LGBT soldiers?
It means freedom from fear. It means that now we can proceed with counseling, HIV testing, consulting an attorney about separation or divorce, without worrying that if our privacy is compromised in any way, someone will out our military spouse and deprive our families of income, health care, and benefits. It means that we can stop hiding.
It may take a while for military chaplains and counselors to catch up with the dynamics of working with our families of mixed orientation marriages. It’s an adjustment. The Straight Spouse Network is here as a resource for all counseling professionals who need to learn about our perspectives and experiences.
Changes will come to the social life of military families as LGBT partners and children of previously closeted soldiers become visible. As this visibility becomes more acceptable, it is our hope that military personnel will not feel it is quite so important to marry a heterosexual to appear “normal”. We hope that straight spouses who are currently isolated into silence and complicity by fear will be free to seek support for themselves, and free to be honest about their marriages and the effect on their families.
Already, straight spouses of military personnel contact the Straight Spouse Network for free and highly confidential peer to peer support. We expect that there will be an increase in their numbers as gay spouses come out or are outed by others. We have had a 25% increase in the number of spouses who seek our help in just this year alone. Clearly, as the times are changing, so is the demand for the information, support, and affirmation that we offer.
The Straight Spouse Network is a nonprofit volunteer organization. We rely on donations from those whom we assist, and the people who love and support them. If you are a professional who makes use of our resources, if we’ve helped you in the past, if we’ve helped someone you love, please consider making a donation. You’ll receive our newsletter and be able to keep up with all the latest developments affecting mixed orientation families. Best of all, you’ll help families like ours gain stability, understanding, and healing as we go forward.