When the discriminatory military regulations of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which denied gay and lesbian U.S service members from openly serving was officially repealed last month it was clear to most that because of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, inequalities would still be inflicted upon America’s married homosexual men and women within the forces.
In a press release reported today, October 27th, the SLDN, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, announced their legal challenge to fight against the unjust policies still currently enforced due to DOMA. The lawsuit is focused on Section Three of DOMA which specifically asserts that the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
The SLDN along with a group of married gay active and retired military personnel filed the lawsuit against the Federal government requesting for “equal recognition, benefits and family support for equal sacrifice and service in the U.S. Armed Forces”
The press release declares that:
“The plaintiffs, each legally married, want the armed services to recognize their families and seek the same family support and benefits for their same-sex spouses that the services and Department of Veterans Affairs provide to opposite-sex spouses.”
The landmark lawsuit, filed in Massachusetts, one of the six states which have legalized same sex marriage equality, is challenging the constitutionality of DOMA which denies over 1000 rights and benefits to married same sex couples.
Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, one of the plaintiffs cited in the lawsuit, was quoted in the press release spoke of the urgency for the repeal of DOMA by stating,
“As plaintiffs, we are fighting to receive the same benefits and opportunities as our married heterosexual counterparts. This discrimination causes undue financial and emotional hardship for our families. As a cancer survivor, who has been recently diagnosed with a recurrence, I worry every day that my health may take a turn for the worse, and Karen would be unable to receive the survivor’s benefits to help take care of our daughter. We are only asking for fair and equitable treatment as a recognized family,”
In accompaniment to the declaration of the inequalities of benefits, the lawsuit also proclaims that the issue is a matter of national security.
Abbe Lowell and Christopher Man of Chadbourne & Parke, SLDN’s pro bono co-counsel in the case, explained,
“Securing benefits for a service member’s spouse allows the service member to do his or her job for the nation with the confidence that they’re not putting their families at risk. It takes the worry out of the equation and allows them to serve with dignity and honor.”
The lawsuit names as defendants the secretary of Defense, the U.S. attorney general and the secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Obama Administration and the Department of Justice announced earlier this year that that they would no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act which resulted in Republicans in the House of Representatives stepping in to defend DOMA.
The current stance of the Pentagon on the issue, as confirmed by spokesman Captain John Kirby, is that the officials will “will evaluate the complaint and consult with the Justice Department, while continuing to follow the law”.