The United States became the 23rd of 26 NATO countries to allow military service by openly gay people last week. An estimated 66,000 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are serving in the U.S. military, according to a recent study by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Many are still afraid to come out. I visited a gay military family to hear the story they are now able to tell.
By Lucy Nicholson
A week ago, Luz Bautista, 30, and her fiancée Alejandra Schwartz, 24, both Navy petty officers, were celebrating the end of the U.S. ban on openly gay service members.
This week, they’re being forced to live apart.
Bautista headed to Illinois Monday, away from Schwartz and their daughter Destiny, 6, for a three year posting that could be extended.
“The emotional toll. You can’t even describe it. It has been tearing us apart for the last couple of months,” said Bautista.
While the repeal of the 18-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy marked a major advancement for gay rights, it doesn’t address many of the practical effects it has for gay troops, and exposes the challenges remaining for the military to accommodate couples.