Military Campaign Features Married Lesbian Couple Harmed by DOMA
Communications Associate, Freedom to Marry
Director of External Engagement, OutServe-SLDN
New York – Today Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released the latest in its “Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry” video series featuring Major Shannon McLaughlin and her wife, Casey McLaughlin, spotlighting the harms of federal marriage discrimination to their family. Although they are legally married in the State of Massachusetts, the McLaughlins are not treated the same as other military couples because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies legally married same-sex couples more than 1,100 federal protections automatically granted to opposite-sex couples.
“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,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “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.”
The full video can be viewed here. Major Shannon McLaughlin and her wife Casey were first introduced by Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry in a previous video in the series several months ago, which can be viewed here.
“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,” said Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.
After leaving her job to take care of their twins, Grace and Grant, Casey was excluded from the health care plan that the rest of the family uses.
“DOMA presented itself as a huge problem once I went on maternity leave and, once the children were born, decided to stay at home,” she explains. She is not welcome to military functions or on base as a military spouse. “I am as much a military wife as anybody else … I want to be recognized and I want our kids to understand that they are the same as well,” Casey says in the video
Major Shannon McLaughlin agrees that for her, “a post-DOMA world” would be one where her wife is “respected, and she’s not singled out as not being as good as every other military wife or husband that’s there.”
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
OutServe-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6000 members around the world. It works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.