Report: DOMA Harms Gay Troops; Undermines Military
When openly gay Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps moves to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan, there will probably be one thing he won’t be able to get out of his mind: how to provide for his family.
Despite new benefits that were extended to gay military couples, Phelps -like most other gay service members-is not eligible to receive up to $20,000 in allowances that straight military members get.
This is the subject of a new report by OutServe-SLDN and the Center for American Progress, which underlines how the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act affects the military.
The report details exactly how DOMA, a 1996 law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman, adversely affects gay and lesbian service members and their families.
"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," wrote Katie Miller, a special assistant at CAP and one of the authors of the report . "Creating two classes of service members is no way to treat our troops and no way to run our military."
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson said military leaders on all levels wish to treat the troops under their command equally, but are forced to discriminate because of DOMA.
"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," Robinson said.
In a video, Phelps said that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t change much for gay service members. He goes on to say that people take for granted how hard the government and the military works to keep families together when a service member receives new orders - except gay families.
"Every time [a service member] is transferred to a new duty station the family doesn’t fall apart," Phelps said. "Things happen automatically but nothing happens for us."
Phelps said the Marine Corps will treat him as if he were a single officer and not responsible for a family, even though he is.
"The reality is I’m responsible for my family the way any other Marine is," Phelps said speaking about his fiancé. "Our family exists no matter if it’s recognized."
While the Pentagon was able to extend a number of benefits independent of DOMA’s repeal, nearly 100 of the statutory benefits conferred on U.S. troops depend on the definition of marital status as stated by DOMA.