It is not surprising that the Defense of Marriage Act is a detriment to the United States military. While outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta may have recently announced the extension of benefits to same-sex couples, DOMA still prevents many more rights from being given to same-sex couples, and often hurts them and the military overall.
The Center for American Progress and OutServe-SLDN have released a study into the impact of DOMA on the military entitled “Collateral Damage: How the Defense of Marriage Act Harms the Troops and Undermines the U.S. Military”. In it they conclude that:
“The Defense of Marriage Act neither defends marriage nor contributes to the actual defense of our country. Service members should never be forced to choose between continuing their service to our country and ensuring the financial stability and well-being of their families. In fact, it is our responsibility as Americans to ensure that our military families are rewarded for their many sacrifices—not burdened by additional sacrifices when they return from duty. Unfortunately, the Defense of Marriage Act forces the military to subject a subset of personnel to heavy financial burdens by withholding benefits even as their service remains paramount to the freedom, security, and prosperity of our country.”
Katie Miller, the author of the report, stated “The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted before same-sex marriage was legal anywhere in the United States. Now that nine states have broken down that barrier, it is time that the integrity of all marriages is defended by federal law. No man or woman who dedicates their life to the protection of our country should have to worry about their families being cared for in their absence. Creating two classes of service members is no way to treat our troops and no way to run our military.”with Secretary Panetta’s reforms, and how it will continue to undermine our military unless the law is struck down.
Perhaps the worst thing from DOMA is that it blocks the military from notifying a wife or husband if their same-sex spouse was killed, wounded, or went missing in action.
OS-SLDN also noted that: Capt. Matthew Phelps, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, who made headlines when he became the first gay man to propose marriage to his partner at the White House expects to receive orders for Okinawa, Japan, at the end of summer. As long as DOMA remains in effect and the cost of his moving is taken into consideration, Capt. Phelps may expect to receive about $20,000 less in benefits and allowances than the other married servicemen that he serves beside.
OS-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson stated that “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.”