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Gay Military Dads Reflect on Veterans Day

Sarah Clapp of Uniquely Normal Photography

Pictured from left: Josh, Kylie, and Johnathan

It's Veterans Day, and with all the progress that's been made for LGBT service members and their families since 'don't ask, don't tell' was aboloished in 2011, not everything is perfectly equitable. GaysWithKids has a story focused on Army Lt. Col. Josh Hawley-Molloy and Johnathan Hawley-Molloy, gay military dads who are raising their 2-year-old daughter Kylie.

It all began 14 years ago. At the time, Josh, a medical doctor in the Army, was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., at the same time as Johnathon was a travel nurse in the area and they met at a gay bar in Seattle — and have been together ever since. They first looked into adoption after Josh returned from a deployment in Iraq. Since DADT was still in effect, they knew it would be difficult. By the time of the repeal of DADT, Johnathon and Josh had completed all the necessary steps to enter the adoption pool, and the couple married in September of 2011, the same month that the repeal was enacted. After reading Dan Savage’s book Kid, they contacted the agency he’d used in Oregon to adopt his son. They eventually matched with a woman in Oregon, although they were still living in Hawaii, where Josh was stationed. That match eventually fell apart, but a local adoption agency managed to work, and they welcomed their daughter Kylie into their home in 2013.

hawley-molloy

According to GaysWithKids, the couple recently moved to San Antonio and both currently work at the San Antonio Military Medical Center: "Josh as the residency program director for internal medicine at the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium and Johnathon as a staff registered nurse in the gastroenterology clinic."

So what has changed for the family, after the end of DADT?

Josh recently returned from his first yearlong deployment since DADT was repealed, and he says he's noticed a marked improvement. “In Djibouti it was a joint task force environment, so we had the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy. I was very open and out. I didn’t encounter anything overt from anybody.”

Josh says that the military has a lot of "great career opportunities whether you’re gay or straight” and he reiterates: “It’s a great time for people who had said they wouldn’t join to consider doing so. And soon, even transgender individuals have career option they didn’t have before.”

Although the Pentagon’s announcement this year that it will allow transgender individuals to serve openly beginning next year, Josh does feel that LGBT servicemembers are still treated differently in some ways than their straight counterparts. For example, while heterosexual families often have access to reproductive medical care, that assistance is not always available to LGBT families. And even when assistance is available, it’s often not evenly applied. As Josh explains: 

“One of the things I see discussed a lot on the Facebook groups that cater to gay military families is reproductive medical care. There seems to be a lot of variability, especially between gay men and lesbian couples, for who can get reproductive assistance.” Some lesbian couples, though certainly not all, are able to get assistance with in vitro fertilization (IVF) in military facilities. Gay male couples in the same units most often can’t. “There isn’t any assistance at all for gay [male] couples,” Josh explained. “And it’s just a gray area whether they’ll provide infertility services for women.”

Ultimately the Army Lt. Col. says, "We have a very gay-friendly military now.” He shared a story from this past June 26, on the same day the Supreme Court released its verdict that made same-sex marriage legal across the country. Josh says he was sitting in a military event headlined by General Tammy Smith, an out lesbian and co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which caters to the needs of LGBT military families.

When the SCOTUS marriage decision was announced that morning, General Smith happened to be in the middle of her speech, and her wife stood up and interrupted her, saying: “We just got nationwide marriage equality!”

“It was great because there were all sort of people in the room, it wasn’t just gay people,” Josh says. "There were lots of straight service members, too.” Everyone, gay and straight, stood up to applaud the announcement. “It was a great feeling,” Josh says.

Read the full story on GaysWithKids here.

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