WATCH: U.S. Marine Captain and his fiancé speak out on how DOMA hurts
April 10, 2013
A new video from our Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign - our joint campaign to amplify stories of how DOMA hurts gay and lesbian service members and their families - spotlights U.S. Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps and his soon-to-be husband, Ben Schock. The couple, who will marry in Seattle, WA next month, are one of thousands of military families affected by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal respect and denies over 1,100 essential protections and responsibilities to legally married same-sex couples.
"There seems to be a contradiction between serving my country and my country not fully supporting my relationship with Ben," Captain Phelps says in the new video, which Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released this week. "Ours is not the type of military family that things happen easily for. The law prohibits the government from providing the same benefits to me and my soon-to-be husband as it would to me if I were marrying a woman."
You'll rememeber Matthew and Ben from this December, when a photo of Captain Phelps proposing to his partner Ben at a White House holiday event went viral across the Internet. The sweet photo is a snapshot into Ben and Matthew's life together - a life full of love, commitment, and a desire to be treated the same as other married couples.
This summer, Captain Phelps will be transferred to Japan to continue serving his country. But because of DOMA, Ben will not be permitted to join Ben on the military base. Ben will also not be eligible for the same employment assistance, shared health insurance, or allowance as different-sex military spouses. Captain Phelps said in the video:
While my colleagues are worried about whether the place they're moving to will accept the breed of dog they've got, I'm waiting on a decision from the Supreme Court to see if my husband can move with me. Unless we can get a visa for Ben to stay in Japan, every 90 days, at our own expense, he'll have to leave the country, just to go back in. It means he's going to have a bit more difficulty finding a job because the military won't provide any assistance for him. I'm not going to be provided an allowance to cover housing for both of us. As far as the military is concerned, Ben won't even be there.
In March, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a legal challenge to DOMA, and a ruling is expected by late June. Freedom to Marry founder and President explained the significance of the potential ruling and elaborated on why stories like this couple's matter. He said:
As Captain Phelps prepares to put his life on the line every day for his country, his government has yet to ensure that his marriage will be given the same respect and dignity that his colleagues receive. Captain Phelps has made a commitment in life and will be legally married, but his husband will be treated as a stranger in the eyes of the federal government. It's time to end the discrimination of military families like theirs and repeal DOMA.
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson D. Robinson explained:
As much as military leaders at all levels may wish to treat the troops under their command with equity, they are forced by federal law to discriminate. As a result, gay and lesbian service members are denied access to critical benefits and meaningful support programs the services provides to help families face the unique challenges of military life. This denial weakens the force itself.
For the past year, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN have been amplifying stories like this to demonstrate how DOMA hurts and explore how American families serving their country are not afforded the same fundamental freedoms as other families. Learn more about Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry HERE.
"Every day, I'm reminded that my marriage to Ben is different from everyone else's marriage," Ben said. "And that's just not right."