Over the weekend, a US Marine Corp captain proposed to his partner at the White House. The photos posted to Facebook have been liked hundreds of times.
Captain Matthew Phelps proposed to his boyfriend Ben Schock on a bended knee at the White House a year after the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation that banned gay people from being open about their sexuality in the US armed services.
Phelps shared the photo on Facebook saying: “Such a special night surrounded by wonderful people in an amazing place, and the best is still yet to come with Ben Schock. Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!”
He told The Atlantic Wire how he met his fiancé: “We met a few years ago in 2010 at the Service-members
Legal Defense Network annual dinner in Washington, D.C. We were introduced by one of Ben’s friends and hit it off. He was living in Seattle at the time, and I in San Diego, so we just became friends, talking on the phone fairly regularly and otherwise just going on about our lives.
“After graduating from the University of Washington, Ben moved to Washington, DC, to live and work. I had always been an advocate for equality in the Marine Corps and the military, and after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was repealed, I came out publicly. My involvement with OutServe, the national organization of actively-serving LGBT military members, brought me to Washington, DC, for a conference, and Ben and I were able to see each other for the first time since we had met.
“When I received an invitation to the White House for the LGBT Pride Month celebration in June of this year, I asked Ben to be my date and he accepted.”
Asked if he expected to suddenly become a gay rights symbol, Phelps explained: “Honestly, no. I wanted to propose to Ben that night at the White House because that’s where we went for our first date six months earlier.
“The only reason we were there was because the Military Partners and Families Coalition offered us tickets for the holiday tour and it happened to be that night. It wasn’t until the photos started showing up and people started talking online that we realized it may have been a first.
“It turns out it wasn’t the first LGBT proposal — a transgender man proposed to his parter at the LGBT Pride Month Reception on June 15, but may have been the first between two men. If there is any statement to be made, it’s that our marriage will not be recognized by the Department of Defense because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“As long as DOMA is in effect, Ben won’t be recognized as my spouse, and therefore won’t have access to any of the benefits that opposite-sex married couples have, including health coverage, base housing, or even unaccompanied access to base. This will really complicate things if I am stationed overseas beginning next summer, as I’m expecting.”