Alicia Butler, a 43-year-old lawyer, met Judith Chedville, 38, a first lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard’s medical command, while they were both playing in a recreational soccer league in Dallas in 2001.
Twelve years later, the women still play soccer together, now as a married couple. While their home state of Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, they held a commitment ceremony in Hawaii in 2005, and officially tied the knot in Marin County, Calif., in the fall of 2008. Their wedding took place just three days before California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state until the measure was later ruled unconstitutional. But Butler and Chedville’s marriage was among approximately 18,000 that are still considered valid.
Now living in Austin with their eight-month-old daughter, Butler and Chedville were elated when the U.S. Department of Defense announced in August that starting on Sept. 3, 2013, the same-sex spouses of military service members would be eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits afforded to opposite-sex military spouses. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that invalidated portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied LGBT couples certain benefits, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote to Pentagon officials that “it is now the department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally.”