USA: Marriage Equality and the US Military Updates

Written by scott on October 3rd, 2013

Gay Wedding RingsWe have a few stories for you today regarding the US military and marriage equality. We’ll start with a report that some gay lesbian couples are having difficulty getting leave time to get married.

The LA Times reports:

The policy, announced with great fanfare at the Pentagon in mid-August, was meant to give same-sex couples up to 10 days special leave to get married in the 13 states that allow it — and thus equal access to low-cost healthcare, base shopping and other benefits available to married couples in the military. But implementation of the policy has caused widespread confusion. Only the Marines have issued final guidelines to their ranks on the new leave. The Army and Navy put out interim directives and are still working on final versions, while the Air Force has yet to even issue any instructions on granting the time off.

One other issue – resentful straight people:

The frustrations are palpable for soldiers such as Spc. Jodie Harper, an Ohio National Guard member and Army supply clerk stationed in Kuwait. When he heard about the new policy, he immediately applied for 10 days leave to wed his longtime male companion, Craig Roberts, in Washington, D.C., where gay marriage is legal. With Harper on a nine-month deployment and Roberts in school and working two jobs, the couple is struggling to make ends meet. Once married, Roberts could register for federal benefits available to spouses of other National Guard troops, including military healthcare, tuition assistance and payments to help defray housing expenses. But Harper’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mark Raaker, refused, saying only emergency leave was being granted. “He said if leave is granted for me to be married then it’s not fair to heterosexuals,” Harper said.

In another military story, the South Carolina National Guard is facilitating same-sex couples’ benefit requests by referring them to the federal offices in the state.

Pink News reports:

The National Guard in the US state of South Carolina has issued a benefit card to a same-sex couple, and is directing benefit applications to federal installations to avoid a conflict with a law banning equal marriage in the state. The issue of the benefit cards comes following a directive by the Pentagon from last month, which extended federal benefits to same-sex couples in the armed forces.

And finally, a District Court in Washington DC has affirmed that married partners of gay and lesbian troops are eligible for benefits through the federal government.

The Washington Blade reports:

In a four-page summary judgment, U.S. Judge Richard Stearns ruled on Wednesday in the lawsuit known as McLaughlin v. Hagel that gay troops plaintiffs in the case are entitled to spousal benefits in the wake of the Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act. Not only the does the decision affirm that spousal benefits must flow to active troops, the ruling states that benefits must flow to gay veterans in same-sex marriages because the portion of Title 38 restricting those benefits to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.

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