Gay American Troops Demand Equal Benefits
Let us be equal! It's been just over a month since that folly, "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was repealed, allowing openly gay service men and women to serve in the military. Now a new fight for equality started last week when a group of gay and married military personnel sued the U.S. government for the same benefits as straight military couples, they claim its a matter of justice and national security.
The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court claims the government’s Defense of Marriage Act violates their constitutional rights. It also asks the military to recognize their marriages and provide spousal benefits such as medical coverage along with the right to be buried together in military cemeteries, benefits already enjoyed by straight service personnel
The Defense of Marriage Act means the Pentagon bound by law to ignore same-sex marriages, even though they are currently legal in six states and in Washington, D.C. itself. “While the repeal of (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) was an important first step in the military’s march for equality, it is time to take the next step and provide equal benefits for equal work,” the lawsuit claims.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has filed this new lawsuit on behalf of eight service members both active and retired. “It’s about justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families in our armed forces rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices, and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad,” Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a press release.
The lawsuit 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.”
Equality may not be an ideal wanted by all, Elaine Donnelly, president of the Centre for Military Readiness, claims the lawsuit is an attempt to impose throughout the military a definition of marriage that’s accepted in just a handful of states, but then that group was strongly opposed to the repeal of DADT.
To many it should be a clear cut case, if you want an equal fighting force, then that forces personnel should all have equal benefits. However, as we all know, what may seem like a certainty is very rarely the case. Especially as we head into a presidential election year normal rational thinking may not apply.