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Gay Troops and Vets to Challenge DOMA in Federal Court

Gay and lesbian service members and veterans are filing suit today to challenge the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the same federal court that recently ruled it unconstitutional for interfering with a state's rights to define marriage, the Washington Post reports:

SarvisThe suit also challenges provisions of federal code regarding spouses that lawyers said bar gay couples from accessing benefits provided by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those benefits include military identification cards, access to bases, recreational programs, spousal support groups and burial rights at national cemeteries.

The suit was spearheaded by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and its lead plaintiffs are Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, 41, and her wife, Casey, 34. According to the paper, five other troops and two veterans are also involved.

Said Sarvis to the WaPo: "What Shannon and Casey are seeking is the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted."

A Supreme Court decision on DOMA is not expected until 2013.

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  1. Good for them. I truly believe that it will come down to a Supreme Court decision that will allow for marriage equality.

    Posted by: bobsmart2 | Oct 27, 2011 11:22:55 AM

  2. While applauding this lawsuit, we must ask, "What's going on behind the curtain?" For we fail to understand why SLDN yet again paints over reality with such a disingenuous, misleadingly broad brush.

    Their press release unequivocally states that federal law prevents gay military couples from having access to military "housing" period, when, in fact, as the Pentagon itself acknowledged in their November 2010 "study" report, ONLY the financial stipend for NON-military housing [typically referred to as “off-base”], called the "Basic Allowance for Housing" at the “with dependent rate" is affected because the definitions of “dependent” trigger DOMA. However, NOTHING prevents gay couples from being allowed to live in "military family housing" [as they do in Great Britain and Australia] but arbitrary Pentagon policy that could be changed NOW with a stroke of the proverbial pen. Definitions of eligibility for this housing do NOT trigger DOMA but the Pentagon has admitted they CHOSE to deny access for a variety of “reasons” that fail to disguise the actual one—homophobia on their own part and/or fear that homophobic straight couples living in military housing might object because they want to "protect the children!" From the Pentagon report, emphasis theirs:

    “For benefits such as these, the Department of Defense COULD legally direct the Services to revise their regulations to extend coverage to Service members’ same-sex partners. This could
    be accomplished in two ways: leave to the Service member the freedom to designate his or her ‘dependents’, ‘family members’, or similar term; or, revise these definitions to specifically mention a committed, same-sex relationship, and require some type of proof of that committed relationship. The latter is similar to the approach now being taken in Federal agencies for civilian employees.”

    Why is SLDN not investing as much energy in pressuring the Commander-in-Chief to order the IMMEDIATE change of this arbitrary policy as they are this lawsuit which will take YEARS in court?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Oct 27, 2011 1:34:12 PM

  3. Equality still eludes gay service members. Thanks to DOMA legally married same-sex military spouses are denied health insurance, commissary, housing allowance and other base privileges as compared to their opposite-sex married counterparts. For those interested - has been providing a supportive environment for friending, sharing and networking between Gay active military, vets and supporters since December, 2010.

    Posted by: Out Military | Oct 29, 2011 10:18:45 PM

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