Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, not all spouses of lesbians and gays are being given their due deference by the military. Navy SH1 Melissa Smith is retiring next month, and her legal spouse, T.J. Jenkins, should be receiving a customary Certificate of Appreciation; however, the Commanding Officer for Naval base at Norfolk has refused to issue one despite the request from Smith due to DOMA.
Other same-sex spouses in the Navy and the military as a whole have received such honors in the past. Allyson Robinson, the head of OutServe-SLDN, stated that “There is an inconsistency here that the Navy must address immediately for this family, but the real enemy is the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. As long as DOMA is on the books, commanders will be forced to discriminate, despite the fact that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense have made it clear that America’s LGBT service members and their families deserve to be treated fairly. Our expectation is that SH1 Smith’s – and every commander of American troops – will do everything possible under the law to honor the service and sacrifice of LGBT military families, and OutServe-SLDN is working directly with the Department of the Navy to ensure that happens here.”
She went on to say that “This is yet another example of just how far-reaching – and how petty – this law can be. The Supreme Court must stand with this family – and with all military families – to ensure they are treated equally.”
Jenkins told WKTR-TV that “To be a second class citizen is just like me sitting in the back of the bus. It was like a slap in the face.”
This incident comes as the United States Supreme Court takes up the issue of the Defense of Marriage Act. The majority of the claims made in order to defend DOMA have made qutie a large number of pundits feel that it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will fail to strike down DOMA.