Last month homosexuals serving in the military won a huge battle in the fight for gay rights when Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed, and now they're taking on the other major federal policy that discriminates against gay people: The Defense of Marriage Act. In a lawsuit filed today in Boston, a group of legally married gay and lesbian servicemembers demanded that the military recognize their unions and provide benefits to their spouses.
Though same-sex marriage is legal in six states and was legal at one point in California, under DOMA the military doesn't acknowledge them. According to the Associated Press, that means that same-sex spouses don't receive medical and dental benefits, housing allowances, travel and transportation allowances, survivor benefits, and the right to be buried with their partner in military cemeteries.
The suit was filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of eight members of the military, including Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, a judge advocate general in the Massachusetts National Guard who's raising 10-month-old twins with her wife, Navy Lt. Gary Ross, whose husband can't afford health insurance, and Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, who has cancer and is concerned about her wife and their daughter not receiving survivor's benefits. There's also Army Captain Steve Hill, who you may recall from such national disgraces as "Republican debate audience boos gay soldier." Hill got married in D.C. in May and the Army recently denied his request for spousal benefits for his husband.
The lawsuit contends that denying benefits to gay spouses isn't just a massivly dickish move, it's also, "a threat to national security." The SLDN argues that the military has already recognized that, "service members who are distracted by thoughts that their loved ones are not being cared for may render the service members less effective combatants," and gay service members are no different.
A Pentagon spokesman pointed out that service members are already allowed to designate some benefits to whoever they want, but it's still unbelievable that we're telling someone who may die for our country that their legal spouse can't receive all the benefits they're entitled to, simply because they're gay.