WASHINGTON, DC — This month, the list of countries where a same-sex military spouse can be sponsored by the Defense Department to join a U.S. service member for an accompanied assignment outside of the U.S. grew to 40 countries. Unfortunately for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) military families approaching the time of year where new duty stations are often assigned, many locations remain unavailable, notably including Germany which hosts an estimated 43,000 U.S. military personnel.
In the locations that remain unavailable to LGBT military families, the same-sex spouses of U.S. service members are denied what is known as "command sponsorship" due to concerns that they are not covered under the current Status of Forces Agreement ( SOFA ) with the host nation as military dependents. This effectively prevents same-sex spouses and children from accompanying their service member to their new duty station in those locations.
"Unfortunately our LGBT service members are often faced with a very difficult situation of choosing between their family and a duty station that would benefit their career, a frustrating and heartbreaking choice my own family is experiencing," said Ashley Broadway, President of AMPA and spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer. "Service members already have to leave their families behind for deployments to combat zones, and sadly our LGBT service members have to face leaving their families behind for a normal duty station as well."
"While we are confident that the State Department is working towards a solution, we cannot emphasize enough the urgency of this issue and how much of an impact continued delays in resolving the uncertainty have on our military families," continued Broadway. "We are especially eager to see the situation resolved with Germany, considering so many of our service members continue to receive orders there and must leave their families behind."
The situation with Germany, a nation which already recognizes same-sex relationships, remains unsettled due to continued delays in working out agreements between the State Department and the German government over reciprocity agreements in regards to Germany's civil unions.
Additionally, resolution of remaining concerns with the Republic of Korea ( South Korea ) is also a high priority for AMPA and LGBT military families. With an estimated 30,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there, continued problems remain for issuing necessary SOFA visas to same-sex military spouses.
Current available locations for command sponsorship of same-sex spouses include: Japan, Italy, UK, Bahrain, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Nepal, Vietnam, Australia, Laos, Austria, Bolivia, Columbia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Finland, Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Burma, Georgia, Philippines, Taiwan, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Curacao, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.
For more information about the American Military Partner Association and LGBT military spouses and their families, please visit www.MilitaryPartners.org .
The American Military Partner Association is the nation's largest organization for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America's LGBT service members and veterans. With over 35,000 members and supporters, AMPA is committed to education, advocacy, and support for our "modern military families."