The Associated Press
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 when they exchanged vows last weekend.
Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, both Apache helicopter pilots, were married at the New York military academy’s picturesque chapel, the New York Times reported on Friday.
The couple met 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, barring homosexual or bisexual members of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation and from speaking about homosexual relationships.
“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino told The Times. “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Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, clearing the way for the pair the pair to come out and go on their first date, which happened in 2012.
“That’s where some guy called us both faggots,” Franchino told The Times.
They then found out that Hall was being deployed to South Korea with his Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and began dating other people, but eventually got back together.
Soon enough, the pair 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.
“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franino said. “But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ years.”