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'Silent partner' examines what happens when people 'don't tell'

By Alexandra Zavis. Los Angeles Times

Ben Cartwright has been a passionate advocate for gay rights for 12 years. He is a regular at gay pride marches, has a pod-cast and writes for a gay newspaper in San Diego.

The last thing he expected was to have to put a part of himself back into the closet. But if the military were to find out about his love for a sailor, a man with years of honorable service would face a dishonorable discharge.

One of the rarely discussed effects of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule is the burden it places on the civilian partners of gay and lesbian service members. When their loved ones go to war, they do not have access to any of the counseling, financial assistance or support networks offered to heterosexual spouses. And if their loved ones die, no one will come knocking at their doors to notify them.

On Thursday, gay veterans and their partners shared their experiences at the local premiere of "Silent Partners," a 30-minute documentary offering a glimpse into the lives of three gay "military spouses" waiting for their partners to come home.

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