A new campaign from two major LGBT rights groups hopes to draw attention to the ways the Defense of Marriage Act hurts military families.
The groups behind the campaign, Freedom to Marry and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, have launched “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Serve” to highlight that even though the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers has been lifted, gay and lesbian couples in the military do not receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples because DOMA prevents them from being treated the same.
The following video released as part of this campaign shows in stark terms what it means to not have a marriage recognized in the context of the military:
Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement:
“Many people assume that, with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ gay men and lesbians serving our country are being treated fairly and equally, but that’s not the case. We ended the ban on open military service for gay and lesbian Americans, but there is still a federal ban on treating married service members as what they are: married. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act’s ‘gay exception’ keeps the government in the business of discriminating against families, such as those of service members, and burdening employers, such as the military, who are prevented from treating their employees fairly and equally.”
Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis also said of the campaign:
“Last week the President described how the stories of service members and their families made a difference in his decision to support the freedom to marry. Indeed, the faces and stories of military families impacted by the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act illustrate the unjust ways this law treats our nation’s most courageous patriots. It’s unconscionable that we would ask American citizens to put their lives on the line for us in war zones while treating them and their families as second-class citizens at home. All service members and their families provide the same service, take the same risks, and make the same sacrifices. When it comes to recognition, support, and benefits, they must all be treated equally. There cannot be two classes of service members.”
In October, SLDN partnered with eight gay and lesbian servicemembers to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.
The lawsuit, McLaughlin v. Panetta, calls for equal marriage recognition for current and former servicemembers.
Image taken from YouTube video, no infringement intended.