Justice for Military Families
by Margaret Weis
As newlyweds (married in June at North Parish of North Andover in Massachusetts), we have done our fair share of paperwork. The process of changing names (I took her last name, if you’re curious), joining finances, and other efforts have proven to be both challenging and exciting as we start our lives as a married couple. But of all the paperwork we have completed in the past few months, the most important has been the documentation to prepare for this deployment. The system of filing paperwork as a married couple when your marriage is not recognized on the federal level leaves much to be desired.
People think that because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) has been repealed, that gay and lesbian troops are treated equally in the military, but this is far from the truth. The system is simply not equipped to deal with the variance in state and federal marriage laws, or accommodate same-sex partners of servicemembers. Needless to say, I see this not only as a personal issue, but also as a civil rights issue, and one that reflects our need for reform as a society. This is an issue of justice and equality.
As a person of Unitarian Universalist faith, I affirm the expression of love and commitment for many types of families. With the repeal of DADT, a big hurdle has been cleared in the ability of servicemembers to fully be themselves. But there is much work still to be done. The reality is that military personnel do not serve alone; their families also serve. Unfortunately, many of those families serve invisibly because the system is not set up to acknowledge them yet.
This month I will join hundreds of others in similar situations as we lobby in D.C. for equal rights for same-sex partners of military servicemembers. This is an effort to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and educate our representatives about how current policies harm our families. I will be speaking as a person of Unitarian Universalist faith, and as a military spouse whose wife is deployed. I pray that my voice is heard.
As Theodore Parker once asserted, I truly do believe that the arc of the Universe bends toward justice. My hope is that, someday, all families of U.S. military personnel will be fully acknowledged, and that all same-sex partnerships are acknowledged on a federal level. Until that day, I believe that we are called as people of faith, as Unitarian Universalists, to spread the good news of our faith and its radical acceptance of GLBT persons and their families. We offer a unique perspective that affirms diversity, and we need to join the conversation! Yes, there is an arc that bends toward justice. And we have the opportunity to push it closer and closer to its goal.
Margaret Weis is the Ministerial Intern at First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist. A former counselor, she lives north of Boston with her wife, Susan, and two rescue dogs.