If DADT repeal was such a benign ‘non-event,’ why are incidents like this erupting into scandals more than a year later?
The top lawyer in the US Marine Corps has reportedly told the Marine legal community that, to avoid “a stir” as seen at Fort Bragg, spouse groups operating on Marine installations must accept homosexuals:
The memo noted that spouses clubs and various other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy encompassing race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.
“We would interpret a spouses club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex,” the memo said.
This appears to be legal advice within the legal community and, as noted before, military lawyers do not make decisions about military policy (nor are they always right). However, the article does not cite a Marine policymaker contradicting the legal edict. That said, the memo itself does not appear to have been intended for public release.
The basic premise appears to be that if a woman is married to a man and he is permitted to join a spouse group, while a woman who is “married” to a woman is not, then the group is discriminating on the basis of the second party’s gender.
That legal advice, only portions of which have been made public, may stumble in one regard: It presupposes both couples (in the hypothetical example) are married. But the military is, by law, prevented from recognizing homosexuals as married (in the Defense of Marriage Act).
Thus, in the same hypothetical example viewed consistent with federal law, there is no discrimination based on gender. From the government’s viewpoint, the second couple is actually single, because the homosexual relationship is not recognized as marital.
Officially, the relationship between the homosexuals is no different than an unmarried heterosexual couple living together. While there most certainly is discrimination based on marital status (something no one has challenged), the gender of the parties involved is irrelevant — which means there is no gender discrimination.
That makes the situation more awkward. If the Marines can’t base their requirement on “gender discrimination,” the only issue left is sexual preference. Yet if they mandated policies based on sexuality, they would potentially be elevating homosexuality to a “protected class,” which the DoD doesn’t recognize, or granting them “special treatment” based on their choice of sexual partners. After all, the policy change doesn’t cover unmarried heterosexuals, just unmarried homosexuals.
For the time being, this policy is limited to the Marine Corps. For example, the Army has reportedly indicated it continues to follow DoD policy in the handling of the Fort Bragg kerfuffle. Since the spouse group is acting within the law, the Army will not take action.
Ret. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, told Fox News that he’s not surprised by the Marine Corps’ decision.
“It should be expected,” said Boykin, an executive vice president of the Family Research Council. “When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, it opened the door to all kinds of things that are counter to the traditions and the good order and discipline of the military.”
“This is very disappointing news,” said Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance. “This is very concerning that the Marine Corps is pressing forward with this agenda and ignoring federal law…”
Crews said it appears that the fears of religious liberty groups have come true.
“The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was one step in a long process to eventually work for the overthrow for the Defense of Marriage Act,” he said. “That’s what’s happening now.”
Also at ABCNews.