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SPLC Challenges DOMA On Behalf of Disabled Lesbian Vet

SPLC Challenges DOMA On Behalf of Disabled Lesbian Vet


The Southern Poverty Law Center is challenging in federal court the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris, a disabled veteran whom the law prevents from accessing the benefits as heterosexual veterans.

Harris served for 12 years in the U.S. Army and received multiple commendations. She has since been diagnosed with MS, a condition that has been connected to her military service. Yet, because the government and the Veterans Association use the legal definition of “spouse” to confer benefits, a definition that because of DOMA same-sex couples are carved out from, Harris finds herself unable to access the full range of financial support she and her partner would be able to have if she were in a heterosexual marriage.

Below is an SPLC video explaining the case and Harris’ background:

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, advances that DOMA is unconstitutional because it discriminates, without just cause, on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. The suit also tackles the V.A.’s narrow definition of the word “spouse.”

Click here to find out more about this case.

Related Reading:
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Twice Discharged Gay Soldier Returns to Active Duty
Gay Vet Quizzes Romney on Marriage

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Image taken from the SPLC video, no infringement intended.

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1:21PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

So many fantastic postings. I feel I have nothing to add, but thanks for being so caring. Yes, one thing: I hope SPLC wins the suit!

12:33PM PST on Feb 5, 2012

I hope that they're successful in challenging this bigoted piece of legislation. DOMA should have been dumped years ago.

9:28AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Mark K. - as others have said, if you "do NOT want the *option* to marry a same sex partner", emphasis on "option" added by me, then by all means *don't marry a same sex partner*! But you have no right to ensure that others do *not* have that option. The Church certainly doesn't have to officiate a same-sex marriage, but as marriage is a social institution which confers, immediately, approximately 1100 rights that unmarried people do not automatically have, *none* of those rights being granted *by* any religious institution, the Church should have no say in whether same-sex marriage happens *outside* their religious institutions.

"If, as consenting adults, gays etc. receive the option to marry why, USING THE EXACT SAME LOGIC AND REASONING, should polygamous marriages be banned?"

What an excellent question! My partner and I are in a committed, monogamous relationship. We have both seen poly relationships, which are all around us in society, which have failed miserably and some that have succeeded as well. So why *should* such marriages be banned?

"We can go on from there... to arranged marriages sanctified by religious affiliation etc."

You need to learn some history, Mark. Those types of marriage have happened for centuries, and in some cultures, still *do* happen. These marriages occurred for political reasons, and the State Religion very happily sanctified them.

8:06PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Fortunately, the comments are mostly positive and supportive for this woman and her partner. Yes, we are backwards. No other way to say it. For those of you still crippled by your bigotry and phobic responses, I doubt that any gay man or woman wants to jump your bones. Sorry, but that is the best and most graphic way to say it. You are entitled to your opinions but the times are changing and all the homophobia in the world will not turn it back to the hateful days of yesteryear.

7:50PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

I am from the UK, so perhaps someone could enlighten me. Why are Gay and Lesbian troops in the US armed forces not deployed in the same way as hetero troops …? They are? How amazing, they do the same job, take the same risks, suffer similar injuries and health problems…. so why on earth are they treated differently? This soldier is a credit to her country and should be cared for by a grateful nation, irrespective of her sexuality, which has nothing whatsoever to do with her military service.

12:34PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Agree with Teresa C. and other similiar comments.

10:57AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

In order to be a homophobe it has to occupy a significant part of your brain, and this means that homophobes are thinking about men/women rubbing penises/vaginas together in a 24/7 gay porno. That’s an awful lot of gay thoughts for supposedly straight people who hate gays. I bet even gay people don’t think about gay stuff as much as homophobes do.

Homophobes (aka Anti-Gay Movement) are not protesting against bestiality, pedophilia (with/without a priest involved), rape, sexual exploitation, or any other form of non-consensual sexual act in which a victim is forced against their will to participate

The Homophobes are protesting a private sexual act being performed by two consenting adults.


Homosexuals = fighting for the right to control their own behavior.

Homophobes = fighting for the right to control other peoples behavior.

8:37AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

IMO, this is unjust, unfair aned illegal. Why does it matter that she has a same-sex partner? She and her spouse should be able to enjoy the same rights as every heterosexual couple--after all, she fought, in part, to defend those rights.

5:40AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Though I am heterosexual, I find it to be very hypocritical that this woman cannot have the same financial support as if she were in a heterosexual marriage. She served her country and became disabled! I have a special place in my heart for veterans and feel that not enough is done for them!

5:28AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Well said, Jennifer.

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