Homosexual US Military Members Sue for Benefits

A variety of websites reported 8 US servicemembers have sued the US government for failing to recognize their same-sex relationship as a marriage, as prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act, thus denying them the benefits of married military members.

“This case is about one thing…justice for gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay-rights group that filed the lawsuit. “These couples are in long-term, committed and legally recognized marriages, and the military should not be forced to turn its back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

Sarvis leaves out the fact the relationships are not recognized as marriages in every state, which, of course, is the very issue the federal law was meant to address.

A US Senate committee recently voted to repeal DOMA, though it is not expected to come up for debate in the chamber.  The House passed the annual defense budget earlier this year with a passage re-affirming the Defense of Marriage Act.

One of the plaintiffs indicated homosexuals have earned the right to those benefits:

Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, who has been deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, said her same-sex partner can’t get on military bases for medical appointments or recreation services, a major hardship since she takes care of the pair’s twin 10-month-olds.

“We’ve been serving our country too long, working too hard and sacrificing too much to see our families denied the same recognition, support and benefits as out [sic] straight married counterparts,” she said.

It is an odd position to assert one can “earn” their way into compliance with the law — a law which passed a bipartisan Congress and was signed into law by a Democratic president.  Similarly, there are a variety of other groups who could use McLaughlin’s identical argument.

For example, there are undoubtedly unmarried couples, even with children, who have “sacrific[ed] too much” to be denied the same rights as married couples.  To claim that one is due benefits simply because one wants them or because one has “sacrificed” — without regard to the requirements of the law — is to propose an unworkable system of entitlement.

Homosexual advocates have also called for making sexual preference a protected class under Equal Opportunity.

Many had previously predicted homosexual advocates would use the military as a platform to fight DOMA, but that first required the repeal of DADT.  Other avenues would have been far more difficult, particularly considering 39 states have laws or Constitutions consistent with DOMA.  (In another hurdle, USC Title 10 also defines a spouse as a member of the opposite gender for the purposes of military benefits.)

For their part, it seems the homosexual advocates chose the venue of their lawsuit wisely:

The lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts District Court, a jurisdiction that has already ruled against the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.