Sorry, Gays in the Military: DOMA Trumps DADT Repeal

According to an Associated Press story, when DADT is repealed, gay servicemembers will still be treated like second-class citizens.

Thanks to 1996’s Defense of Marriage Act—which defines the institution as a legal union between a man and woman—the Pentagon claims the Defense Department is prohibited from extending partner benefits that “ease the costs of medical care, travel, housing and other living expenses” to gay couples, even if they were legally wed in a state that honors same-sex marriages.

That means housing allowances and off-base living space for gay servicemembers with partners could be decided as if they were living alone. Base transfers would not take into account their spouses. If two gay servicemembers are married to each other they may be transferred to two different states or regions of the world. For heterosexual couples, the military tries to avoid that from happening.

Don’t think that sucks hard enough? Same-sex partners cannot receive military IDs, so they can’t shop in commissaries, receive treatment at military medical facilities or even be allowed on base unescorted. They can be listed as the person to be notified if a soldier is missing, injured or killed, but cannot be told any details about the death. And if their partner is killed, the military won’t pay for them to go collect the body.

Should DOMA be repealed, the military’s policy regarding same-sex partner benefits could change. But for now we suggest any potential recruits think twice before signing up to (not) be all they can be.


Image via Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund