There are many reminders of Valentine’s Day in Senior Chief Dwayne Beebe’s small barracks room on the Navy base in Millington, including a teddy bear and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. And Beebe says he has one more reason to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. On Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the military will expand benefits to same-sex military couples who sign a pledge stating they are “in a committed relationship and intend to remain so indefinitely.”
Beebe says he and his partner Jonathan Franqui will have no problem signing that pledge. Wearing his dress uniform, Beebe proposed during a gay pride parade in San Diego last July. The couples received a marriage license in Maryland in January and are planning a wedding ceremony with family and friends in Florida next month.
“If you add up these benefits, as far as monetary value,” Beebe said, “you’re talking hundreds of dollars a month.”
Once Franqui is issued a military-issued ID card, he will be able to cancel his gym membership and workout at the base gym. He will also be able to shop at the base commissary, which Beebe says is significantly cheaper than regular grocery stores.
“I have a nineteen year-old and a seventeen year-old and my son eats like crazy, so him alone is like $400 or $500 grocery bill a month, but if we can shave some money off of that by going to that commissary, it helps,” Beebe said.
Like many military couples, Beebe and Franqui are currently living apart. Beebe arrived in Millington in January while Franqui stayed in Pensacola, Florida to allow Beebe’s daughter to finish the school year.
When the family moves to join him, Beebe is hopeful the military can help Franqui find a job in the Memphis-area. Franqui will soon have access to the Military Spouse Program, which aims to pair spouses with lucrative jobs wherever their partner is stationed.
“He may be able to find a lot better job up here in Memphis quicker,” Beebe said.