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Nonprofit speaks for LGBT military

Six years after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," LGBT servicemembers join together for mutual support

The AMPA crew and family dressed at their annual gala. From left to right: Jennifer Dane, Jim Cassidy, Nicole Reno, Lori Hensic, Nick Stone, Adrianna Domingos-Lupher, Stephen Peters, Ashley Broadway-Mack. Photo courtesy Stephen Peters

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The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) is the largest resource network for LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families in the country. Conceived in 2009 and founded in 2012, the nonprofit organization is the brainchild of Stephen Peters, who served his country as a marine for four years before he was discharged under DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell). In the wake of his honorable discharge, Peters organized a group of fellow same-sex military spouses into a nationwide advocacy, education and support network of 45,000 volunteers and counting.

"AMPA is led by an all-volunteer team of military spouses, so this is personal for us," Peters said. "Each of us knows the unique challenges we face not only as military spouses, but also as LGBT people."

AMPA combats the pain of discrimination. Through AMPA's private online support network, and regional offices conducting community events around the country, LGBT families can come together in a safe and supportive environment where they won't feel ostracized and alone. The annual National Gala in Washington, D.C. - their largest event - hosts hundreds of LGBT servicemembers, military spouses, veterans and allies from across the country and around the world. Their educational events and webinars enlighten the unaware, while their Faces of Our Families project and Modern MilSpouse blog give faces and voices to the good people who might otherwise be shunned and marginalized as "the other."

AMPA doesn't just provide an open ear and a crying shoulder for victims of discrimination; they've worked tirelessly to implement social changes to put an end to it, advocating on matters of public policy and publicizing their struggles to the media. AMPA members regularly meet with their local members of Congress to discuss important issues and lobby for increased resources and support services. In 2014, AMPA filed suit against Robert A. McDonald, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, arguing that denying benefits to same-sex spouses living in states that didn't recognize same-sex marriage was unconstitutional following the Supreme Court's repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. As of the time of writing, the case is still open.

For some, getting out and going home didn't mean they were done fighting, it was the beginning of the hardest battle of their lives, and it rages on to this day without a single shot ever being fired.

AMPA has local networks around the country, including the Pacific Northwest. To learn more about AMPA or to join a network, please visit

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