US Marine Captain Matthew Phelps and his fiancé Ben Schock were the first same-sex couple to get engaged at the White House. Now, they are part of a campaign for Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN about the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on military personnel.
Captain Phelps states in the video that “There seems to be a contradiction between serving my country and my country not fully supporting my relationship with Ben. Every day, I’m reminded that my marriage to Ben is different from everybody else’s marriage, and it’s just not right.”
The couple will marry in Seattle, Washington before Captain Phelps will be transferred to Japan for roughly two years. Because of DOMA, Schock will not be able to join him on base even though they will be legally married. In order to be together, Schock will have to travel to Japan at their own expense since the military does not currently provide housing allowances and assistance for married same-sex couples the way that they do for opposite-sex couples. Because Schock can only stay in Japan for thirty days and then return, it seems unlikely that he will be able to find a job.
Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson stated “As Captain Phelps prepares to put his life on the line every day for his country, his government has yet to ensure that his marriage will be given the same respect and dignity that his colleagues receive. Captain Phelps has made a commitment in life and will be legally married, but his husband will be treated as a stranger in the eyes of the federal government. It’s time to end the discrimination of military families like theirs and repeal DOMA.”
Reverend Allyson D. Robinson, the executive director of OS-SLDN, stated “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.”