The military began recognizing same-sex marriages in 2013, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for those couples after that. If the service member is stationed outside of the United States, the couple is wholly dependent on the laws of the host country. Many countries around the world do not recognize same-sex marriage, so part of the agreement allowing American troops to be stationed there includes not allowing same-sex couples. So these troops are forced to either live apart, or pay their own way to move overseas and then live off base. But some of these spouses, at least, have gotten a reprieve, as Germany has agreed to accept same-sex military spouses as dependents.
There are hundreds of gay troops estimated to be serving in Germany right now. With Germany’s new policy, any of their spouses will now be command-sponsored dependents, meaning their travel, housing, passports, and visas will all be taken care of by the Department of Defense. They will also be able to have their household goods shipped to Germany. Ashley Broadway, president of the American Military Partners Association, estimated that over 100 same-sex spouses over the past two years have either had to be separated or pay out of pocket to live with their spouse. “Members of our organization are going to be elated that finally, two years after the Supreme Court decision ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, their families will not be separated or burdened by financial hardships,” she said. “It’s going to have a huge impact, especially for those junior enlisted individuals who just can’t fork out thousands of dollars to move their spouse and their children.”
Currently, same-sex spouses can receive visas to live with their military service members in 47 countries, including Italy, Germany, the UK, and Japan. In South Korea, however, visas are still not approved for same-sex spouses. The military gave those spouses commissary and PX privileges over the objections of the Korean government anyway. Altogether, there are 87 countries that do not approve visas for same-sex spouses.