08/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011


As a committed and patriotic partner of a gay servicemember who has served a tour in Iraq and is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, one word best sums up my experience: INVISIBLE.

To an entire branch of our government, I do not exist. I am in a loving, devoted relationship with a brave service member who, with courage and my sacrifice and support, has fought for our country on the ground in Iraq. But his family -- our family, means nothing to the leaders of our nation. In fact, if the Department of Defense learned of our relationship, my partner would be subject to investigation, prosecution and a possible dishonorable discharge: consequences severe enough to ruin his entire future.

While my partner serves our country during these wars, I receive no benefits (medical benefits, family separation allowance, etc); I cannot access the family and spousal resources on the military base out of which he serves, or take part in military family events. I have no access to "military spouse" support groups and networks. When my partner graduated from military training and when he left for Iraq I had to stand on the sidelines -- to vanish, disappear from his life and pretend I did not know him. I was proud to see him off, but heartbroken that I could not give him a hug and what could have been a final kiss goodbye.

These are just a few examples of how invisible I feel, and how invisible I remain.

Watch Ben in "Silent Partners", the new episode of In Their Boots, a documentary series about the impact the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are having on people here at home. This episode focuses on the partners of members of the military serving under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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