DISMANTLING DOMA

The Military Lawsuit That Could Topple DOMA

Even though Congress repealed the gay military ban known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, LGBT military families still get screwed out of the health care, housing and bereavement benefits offered to straight military couples.

That’s partially because the so-called Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the U.S. military from extending any federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. So the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has filed a federal lawsuit that could rid us of the anti-gay law once and for all.

The SLDN filed the suit (McLaughlin v. Panetta) in the District Court of Massachusetts on behalf of eight plaintiff couples, including Stephen Hill the openly gay Iraq soldier booed at the September 22nd Republican debate. It not only challenges DOMA, but also Titles 10, 32 and 38 of the U.S. Code, all of which prevents the military from extending benefits to the spouses of gay military members.

Since the Massachusetts court has already ruled against DOMA in at least two cases—and since Obama’s Department of Justice is no longer defending DOMA in court—the plaintiffs have filed a motion for summary judgment. That is, they contend that the facts of the case aren’t in dispute by any party and that the judge should just issue a ruling without a trial.

The only thing to ultimately rule on is whether DOMA advances any legitimate government interest (it doesn’t) and whether it’s constitutional (it’s not).

John Boehner and Paul Clement of the Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group could shell out another million dollars of taxpayer money to defend DOMA with a bunch of shoddy reasons explaining how gay families hurt America. But if BLAG decides to let the case proceed unchallenged, the SLDN expects a ruling in a few months.

Just to be clear, when you can get legally married in six states but still can’t care for your partner, that’s not just and it certainly does more harm to American communities in the long run. In fact, even SLDN “‘calls the continued denial of benefits to gay spouses ‘a threat to national security.’ It argues that, given the extreme mental and physical demands of modern warfare, the military has already recognized that ‘service members who are distracted by thoughts that their loved ones are not being cared for may render the service members less effective combatants.'”

So, if you’re against gay marriage, then you’re letting the terrorists win. You don’t want the terrorists to win, do you?

Image via USACEpublicaffairs