After almost two decades of discrimination against gay service members, the U.S. military's repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibited openly gay men and women from serving, heralded a new chapter in its history. Now, five years on, same-sex love in the military is being widely celebrated, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive response to a photo of one same-sex military newlyweds' first kiss.
The happy moment was captured seconds after soldiers Shane Adriano and Cody Resz were wed at the Greene County Courthouse in Springfield, Missouri. Posted on Facebook by The American Military Partner Association — an organization that supports the spouses of LGBT military members and veterans — on Feb. 11, the photo has since garnered more than 6,000 likes and has been shared almost 2,000 times.
Save for a few bad apples, most of the comments were congratulatory, and many people expressed happiness for the couple. "If I could say congrats a million times I would," one commenter wrote. "Do not let anybody make you feel like your marriage is any less valuable than theirs. They are simply jealous you have the courage to wear that uniform and be happy with the man of your dreams next to you."
The wonderful responses to their snapshot of joy was unexpected, Resz said. "The majority of people who were commenting and sharing, they were doing it because they are proud of how far the military has come," he added. "Up until 2011 it was illegal to be openly gay in the military. Now, it's legal for us to be married."
Speaking to A Plus via email, National Outreach Coordinator of The American Military Partner Association Nick Stone said that the organization was "thrilled" that Resz and Adriano's wedding kiss had received so much national attention and support.
"When moments like these are shared and celebrated, hearts begin to soften and people truly get to see that love is love," Stone said. "Public opinion is changing in this country and slowly throughout the world, and AMPA will always be there to support and advocate for our modern military families."
The Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage last year was a monumental decision for gay rights in the country. On an issue that for so long has been vehemently opposed, the ruling showed that American public opinion can absolutely evolve — quite dramatically and swiftly so. The acceptance and celebration of same-sex marriage among members of an institution that at times seemed slow to catch on is further proof that society often can and will change for the better.