WATCH: On Military Spouse Appreciation Day, married Army couple discusses harms of DOMA
May 10, 2013 at 09:00 am
Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, a day when we salute all of the husbands and wives of service members for all of the sacrifices that they have made and for supporting and standing by their spouses as they serve our country in the military. As we honor these strong men and women, it's important to remember that while all military spouses make similar sacrifices for their country, not all military spouses are treated the same: The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ensures that the spouses of gay or lesbian servicemembers - and their families - are treated unequally.
Today, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released the latest video in the 'Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry' video series featuring Major Shannon McLaughlin and her wife Casey. The couple speaks out about how DOMA hurts. Watch:
Major McLaughlin and Casey are legally married in their home state of Massachusetts. They live there with their twin children, Grace and Grant. But DOMA prohibits federal respect for their marriage and denies them many of the essential protections of marriage. Although the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a long list of federal benefits to married military couple - shared health insurance and medical coverage, the issuance of military identification cards, the ability to live together on military bases and receive surviving spouse benefits - DOMA denies these benefits and protections to the spouses of gay or lesbian service members. Casey, for example, is not able to share Shannon's health insurance.
The McLaughlins are the lead plaintiffs in McLaughlin v. Panetta, a lawsuit filed by OutServe-SLDN last year challenging DOMA. The case has been put on hold because of the Supreme Court hearing of a separate DOMA challenge, Windsor v. United States, but it represents what Casey and Shannon need: Respect for their marriage and respect for their entire family. "A military spouse is someone who holds the family together, holds together that military family and allows the military member to go out to be able to do their mission or training that is necessary," Major McLaughlin said.
Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson discussed the importance of military families like Casey and Shannon speaking out today. He said:
Even as we end marriage discrimination in state after state, married gay and lesbian service members risking their lives for our country are still being denied protections for their families because of federal marriage discrimination. The sacrifices that soldiers like Major Shannon McLaughlin and their families make are not matched by equal respect, and equal treatment, from the government. It's time to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Respect for Marriage Act to end federal marriage discrimination.
Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson said:
As we prepare to honor mothers across the country this weekend, let us not forget that many are not being treated equally in the eyes of the law. It's time to end DOMA and forever relinquish this kind of discrimination to the dustbin of history. We cannot have a strong and effective military and maintain two classes of service members, and as long as DOMA is on the books, that's exactly what we have.
For the past year, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN have been collaborating on Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry to amplify the stories of military families harmed by DOMA. Learn more about the campaign and watch all of the videos we have previously released - including one featuring Major McLaughlin and Casey - HERE.