Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin has reintroduced to the House the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013. The bill would change the definition of ‘spouse’ in four areas of the US Code as it relates to the recognition, support and benefits for married service members and veterans.
According to OutServe-SLDN, “The changes – including to provisions in Titles 10, 32, and 38 that are challenged in OutServe-SLDN’s landmark litigation, McLaughlin v. U.S., filed in October 2011 – would ensure that spouses of the same gender are eligible for key military benefits.”
OS-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson stated that “Since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ there have been two classes of service members in this country – one that receives the nation’s full recognition, support and benefits and one that does not. By making an arbitrary distinction between gay and lesbian troops and their straight comrades, and forcing commanders to play favorites, the law as it stands harms all service members and weakens the force. This legislation fixes that problem.”
The changes that MSET would make to US law would still have to happen even if the Defense of Marriage Act were struck down or repealed.
Robinson also stated “Treating service members equally, without partiality or favoritism, is one of the most basic principles of sound military leadership. For this reason, equality for LGBT troops and their families is a national security issue. Commanders should not be forced to treat some service members like second-class citizens because the federal government does not recognize their marriages. Today, we thank Congressman Smith for taking this crucial step to strengthen our military, and we urge his colleagues in both parties and in both houses of Congress to join him and us in this important fight,” said Robinson.
A similar bill is expected to be introduced into the Senate in the near future.
Pocan stated “Supporting our servicemen and women and our veterans also means supporting their spouses and families, whose sacrifices often go unseen and unrecognized. This support should not be contingent on whether a member of our military is gay or straight. After the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act is an important step toward equality, and for ensuring we keep our promises to all of the courageous men and women who serve our country in uniform. Moving forward, I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on legislation to ensure that same-sex spouses, no matter their occupation, can receive the benefits and support afforded to all other spouses.”