More Countries Added to Same-Sex PCS List


If you're a same-sex military spouse life has gotten a lot easier for you in the last few years. Not only was the policy Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed, allowing for gay military members and their spouses to serve and live openly, but the Defense of Marriage Act was rules unconstitutional, allowing for those spouses to receive benefits. Until that time anything tied to having a government ID card -- housing, access on base, commissary use, health insurance and more -- was denied.

But things still aren't completely well for this group of military members and their spouses. And that's because of the little problem of overseas PCS moves.

Countries that host US military bases have a status of forces agreement (SOFA), with the US that governors how Americans live in the country, including whether or not military families can receive a visa that allows them to live there for the duration of their spouse’s assignment. Those countries can choose whether or not to allow same-sex spouses as part of their SOFA.

If they aren't allowed, they can't get command sponsorship to PCS with their service member. That could mean the service member does the PCS solo.

Since we last told you about this problem in July, a bunch of countries have been added to the "yes" list. Mexico, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Israel and Finland are just a few of the ones I counted. Most of those places host U.S. service members on the U.S. embassy staff, so the numbers of military families there are small. The total number of countries that now allow same-sex spouses as part of their SOFA is up to 40.

Still, mysteriously missing from the "yes" list are two countries with a big U.S. military family member presence -- Korea, which does not recognize any same-sex unions, and Germany, which recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships.

The roadblock with Germany is still puzzling, said Ashley Broadway, the president of the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), which advocates for same-sex military spouses.

"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," she said. "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."

Is this a problem your family has faced? Tell us your story in the comments.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified a handful of countries as being on the "no" list. 

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