Same-Sex Couples Face Unfair Treatment

Seanna Pratt, Contributing Writer

   With the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” in 2011, many same-sex couples felt they finally had reached a point of equality in military life. However, these couples are finding out that this is not the case.

   The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) forbids federal government recognition of any marriage other than that of a man and woman. The effects of DOMA have been extremely damaging to same-sex couples because they are being denied various necessary things. This act is being reviewed by the Supreme Court in March to determine if it is unconstitutional.

   Sgt. Karen Alexander, 29, is denied the same housing allowance and other important family benefits because her marriage is unrecognized by federal law. Alexander and her wife continually struggle to pay for their own housing, for other bills and for putting food on the table.

   Not only are couples being denied funding, but they are facing restrictions on being given military ID as a spouse of their partner. Ashley Broadway, married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, was denied admission to an officer spouses club because she does not have a spouse ID badge issued by the military. At first, officials were only willing to give her the status as “care giver” to their two year old son; the same status a nanny would receive. After attention was given to the situation, officials dubbed her the status as a “special guest member,” but Broadway refused. She considered the offer “demeaning.”

   Same-sex couples in the military are being denied numerous benefits as well as continuing to face a sort of social stigma by other heterosexual couples and people in the military community. While attending a marriage retreat, 1st Lt. Nakisha Hardy and her wife were asked to leave within 24 hours of arrival because they were told that they “[were] making others uncomfortable.” With DOMA in place, it was legal for them to be removed from the program.

   Countless examples of unfair treatment of same-sex couples exist, but not much is being done. While it is necessary to wait for the court’s decision on whether to repeal DOMA in some circumstances, there is a lot more progress to be made by just altering regulations under the Defense Department, and that can be done without legislative action. Changes to these regulations would alter how same-sex couples receive military housing, relocation benefits, legal assistance and military ID’s.

   The overall emotional consensus by those affected by the policies and regulations include confusion, anger and most importantly: betrayal. Most of the people being discriminated against don’t understand how the government can ask them to put their lives on their line to protect the country, but the government can’t even take care of their family while they are gone.

   For these same-sex couples, it isn’t about changing the personal beliefs of others. It’s about fairness, equality and peace of mind that their families are taken care of in any circumstance.

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