Community View: One servicemember's story about the ruling for marriage equality


After graduating high school and attending a year of college, I decided post-secondary education was not a good fit for me at the time. I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in February 2005, taking an opportunity to do something positive with my life. I entered the service carefree, meaning I had no major ties back to home and had my family's support. During my first year, I realized that I did, indeed, have worries and cause for concern.

When I enlisted in the Air Force, I had no idea about their “Don't Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, as well as barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. This meant that from February 2005 to September 2011, I had to worry about being involuntarily separated from the Air Force—having both my career and my service to my nation terminated—simply because I was a lesbian. 

Kamesha Pickett (right) and her wife, Audriana

Kamesha Pickett (right) and her wife, Audriana

Not only was my career on the line, but my personal life was put on hold as well. As a result of DADT, I feared dating and having a relationship, and I could not even entertain the notion of getting married, if I was ever lucky enough to meet someone special. This strain caused me to consider leaving the military, but when DADT was repealed in September 2011, it was a huge relief that brought peace of mind back into my life, and made me decide to continue my career and most importantly be open and not have to hide who I truly am.

In July 2012, I was selected for a permanent change of station, and I was required to re-enlist if I wanted to continue service. I had no problem with re-enlisting, as I was single and had no ties to hold me back from continuing service. In August 2012, I was stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was an amazing time, as I was able to witness as other states began to allow same-sex marriage, and when the state of New Mexico became 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage in December 2013, I was simply glad to be a part of that moment in history. I remember watching the news in awe as same-sex couples were applying for marriage licenses, and I thought to myself "one day I hope I am able to get married.”

We were making strides toward equality—both in society and in the military. However, work was not done, and I was faced with another dilemma as a service member. Although, the U.S. military would allow same-sex couples to enroll their spouse in the eligibility system to receive benefits in states where marriage equality was legal, these benefits and rights would not transfer if I were to have been stationed in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage.  These were simply concerns in the back of my mind, as I had yet to meet my special someone.

In February 2014, it finally happened, and I her. We have had a wonderful journey, as we had to do long distance for a while. Thankfully, I convinced her to move to the Land of Enchantment. It is something rare when you know you have met your match and would consider getting married sooner than later like most couples. I was thankful to have that right, but it became a pressing concern that if we received orders to a state that didn’t recognize our marriage, we would be back to square one.

On June 26, 2015, the LGBT community received the biggest news to date, when the Supreme Court ruled 5–4 that the Constitution requires same-sex couples be allowed to marry, no matter where they live. This is monumental to me, as we now know we have the opportunity to have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. As far as military services, I now have no barriers or any decisions I longer have to weigh upon due to the repeal of DADT and the SCOTUS ruling. I am truly thankful and amazed on how I was able to witness the changes throughout the military and our nation. On July 18, 2015 I married the love of my life right here in Albuquerque, NM and no matter where we end up while I'm serving our same-sex marriage and rights are protected.

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