On March 26 the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the discriminatory "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA). DOMA unfairly denies federal protections—like Social Security, veterans’ benefits, health insurance and retirement savings—to committed same-sex couples who are legally married in their own states.
But as OutServe - SLDN Executive Director, Allyson Robinson, explained, the harms of DOMA also reach military members and their families. "Gay and lesbian military members can be out, but we are far from equal," Robinson said. She noted that this form of discrimination weakens national security.
She explained that gay and lesbian military members and families don't receive the military benefits that they have earned through their military service, such as housing, health care, and next of kin notification and support. Robinson said that a large portion of a military member's compensation is made up of these benefits, and restricting access to them has harmed families. Each year, gay and lesbian military members spend over $5000 more in out of pocket expenses than their straight counterparts.
Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice Johnson is one of those members. She met her wife six years ago, both as actively military members. After "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was repealed, the two were married in Washington, DC, where marriage equality is legal. When her wife was killed in Afghanistan, Johnson was not informed. Instead, she was told by members of her wife's family that representatives of the military had visited and informed them.
"Usually widowed spouses are notified of death, provided counseling, able to greet the casket as it arrives on American soil, and presented the flag that drapes the casket," Johnson said. "I received none of that." Because of DOMA, she was rendered invisible by the military.
Former Congressman, Army Captain, and Iraq War Veteran Patrick Murphy stated, "DOMA is disruptive to our troops and the military as a whole." He noted that DOMA makes it harder for troops to focus on their job, harder to recruit the top talent, and harder to maintain troop readiness. "The fate of so many military families rests in the hands of the court."
GLAAD is a part of the Respect for Marriage coalition, a partnership of more than 80 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women's organizations working together to end the "Defense of Marriage Act" and grow support for the freedom to marry. GLAAD is keeping the American public informed about the cases, advocating for fair and inclusive coverage of the cases, and raising the voices of the growing majority who support marriage equality.
Visit United for Marriage to learn how you can join thousands of people and grassroots organizations to stand up and show your support for marriage equality in Washington and around the country. Also visit www.glaad.org/marriage to stay informed.