Kaitlin Ward and Lauren Bloch met and fell in love at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
In this post-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era, it’s a love they have not had to keep secret. It’s also a love that has led them to become engaged.
Last week, the couple made a nice little bit of history when their engagement was announced to the entire corps during the holiday meal that is the one time that all four years of cadets eat together.
This is a tradition but it is the first time in the school’s 137 year history that a same-sex engagement had ever been announced, according to Buzzfeed.
The announcer said: ‘Over the weekend, Cadet First Class Kaitlin Ward got down on one knee and proposed to her longtime girlfriend, Lauren Bloch. This is the first announcement of its type.’
What followed were cheers by fellow cadets.
‘We started out as friends, then became best friends as we developed more of a connection over time, and it just kind of just happened,’ Ward tells Buzzfeed.
The couple began dating in September 2011 which was the same month that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. The old policy had not allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military.
After the US Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, the couple began to talk marriage.
‘All summer we were wondering when [the decision] was going to come out,’ Ward said.
They are now eligible for federal benefits that all couples in the military are entitled to including being assigned in the same sector.
‘If DOMA hadn’t been repealed, we wouldn’t have been able to apply for collocation,’ Ward said. ‘Ever since then it’s been more realistic that [getting engaged] was something we could see happening in the near future.’