The First Active-Duty Gay Couple Get Married at West Point

By, Jerome West

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This past January, two Army captains who met in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era of the military, became the first active-duty, same-sex couple to get married at West Point. According to The New York Times, Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, both Apache helicopter pilots, were married at the New York military academy’s picturesque Cadet Chapel by a Unitarian Universalist minister.

The couple met at West Point in 2009 when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman. At the time, former President Bill Clinton’s policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect. This policy barred homosexual or bisexual members of the military from disclosing their sexual orientation and from speaking about homosexual relationships.

Franchino told The Times, “We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us. So, we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay, we were never going to get made fun of and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”

Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, clearing the way for the pair the pair to come out and go on their first date, which happened in 2012. Franchino noted that since dating openly, “We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street. But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ years.” He continued, “We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us—perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines—to lie about ourselves.”

When the couple learned that Hall was being deployed to South Korea with his Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter brigade, they began dating other people. However, the pair eventually got back together.

Soon enough, they were walking down the aisle of West Point’s chapel donning their pressed blue formal uniforms, reading their vows and ducking under a saber-arch salute as an officially married couple. Franchino said that although he’s been through a lot with his new husband, nothing was worse than when he had to hide his identity.

Special thanks to Lauren Gill of Newsweek.

Taylor Pace