Airman First Class Henderson and husband explain how DOMA hurts their family

Today, Freedom to Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released a new video in our joint Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign, which spotlights the ways in which the marriages of gay and lesbian service members are not respected by the federal government.

The latest video in the series features Airman First Class Daniel Henderson and his husband Jerret, who married in Iowa.

"The fact that we're able to get married means a lot to us," A1C Henderson says in the video. "Being married is a great feeling - buying our first house is amazing." 

Daniel and Jerret have been a committed couple for several years, and their marriage is lawfully recognized in Iowa. However, because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal respect of lawful marriages between same-sex couples, the U.S. military is forced to treat their marriage differently than it treats marriages of service members in different-sex relationships.  

Daniel and Jerret go onto discuss an ankle injury Jerret has, explaining that it is significantly harder for Jerret to obain medical attention for it because Daniel's federal military medical coverage is not easily-transferrable to his same-sex partner. 

"It seems like every day we're encountering new ways in which we're discriminated against," Jerret says. "And it's not fun, and it's not easy - it's been very difficult. All of these legal documents that we have to have drawn up on the side to supplement our marriage - people are genuinely surprised."  

A1C Henderson and his husband are not alone - servicemembers with same-sex partners are not afforded many of the protections guaranteed by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These federal protections for married military couples include shared health insurance and medical coverage, military identification cards, the ability to live together on military bases, support from morale and welfare programs, and surviving spouse benefits. 

Since May, Freedom to Marry and SLDN have been highlighting the dozens of ways that service members in same-sex relationships are discriminated against and treated differently than different-sex couples. In June, Captain Steven M. Hill explained that if something were to happen to his husband Josh Snyder, Army Capt. Hill wouldn't be allowed to take a mourning leave from the military. In July, we heard from Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan tell her story of battling incurable stage 4 breast cancer - and explain that should she not survive, her wife, Karen, would be unable to access the survivor benefits that she needs in order to take care of their five-year-old daughter.

Over the course of the campaign, over 30,000 supporters have signed our petition to repeal DOMA on behalf of military families. Our federal team has been using those signatures to lobby key members of Congress and show them that DOMA damages our armed services and disrespects our service members. Just last month, this lobbying helped earn three new cosponsors for the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would overturn DOMA. 

Learn more about how DOMA hurts military families and sign our petition asking Congress to repeal DOMA.