WATCH: Army officer and partner join in civil union at Air Force base
August 06, 2012
Last month, Johnny Wandasan, a Resource Officer in the U.S. Army, joined with his partner Kenton in a civil union ceremony at the Hickam Air Force Base on July 6, 2012. It was the first same-sex civil union ceremony at the Hickam Officer's Club.
A masterful new video from Crane Media takes us through the couple's wedding day, interjecting the wedding ceremony with scenes of Kenton and Johnny writing out invitations, sharing a cocktail, and getting dressed for the big day in front of their family members and friends.
The American Military Partner Association profiled the couple in July. The piece reads:
The July 6th date holds a special meaning to Kenton and Johnny, as does the venue; Johnny received his commissioning from the 298th Regimental Training Institute's Officer Candidate School program at the Hickam Officer's Club, back in August 2000.
The repeal of DADT aided tremendously in transitioning from a life of secrecy to a life of openness and acceptance in the military. Kenton and Johnny recently attended a Farewell event for the Senior Enlisted Advisor from Johnny's previous unit and both were made to feel welcome. In fact, a Platoon Sergeant from Johnny's unit, along with other non-commissioned officers, volunteered to assist with the DJ and music entertainment during their wedding.
Kenton and Johnny currently reside in Honolulu, Hawaii, and are together raising a year-and-ten-month old American Pitbull, nicknamed "Haas". They often talk and dream about one day growing their family through adoption.
Same-sex couples have been permitted to join together in civil union in Hawaii since February 2011, when Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples into law, which grants same-sex couples many of the benefits and protections that marriage affords. But a civil union is not a marriage, and only the freedom to marry can provide same-sex couples the same protections that different-sex couples have.
Since Johnny is a service member, his union with Kenton is complicated in terms of the ways that the government can protect their relationship. Because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the law that prohibits federal recognition of legal marriages between gay and lesbian couples, same-sex couples are denied over 1,100 benefits that different-sex couples receive. These protections include access to joint military housing, the opportunity to take leave to care for a spouse, Social Security survivor benefits, and equal treatment under US. immigration law.
Since May, Freedom to Marry has been partnering with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, our campaign to highlight the specific struggles that DOMA causes for gay and lesbian service members and their families.
Couples like Johnny and Kenton should not have their relationships treated like second-class relationships. Freedom to Marry wants to live in a country where these brave service members and their families receive the same protections and respect that all different-sex couples receive.
Sign our Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry petition HERE to stand with Johnny and Kenton and thousands of couples like them who are treated differently under the law.