Marriage Inequality Harms Military Families and Veterans
On Wednesday, July 9th, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) and OutServe-SLDN jointly filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the case of Henry v. Himes, decided by a federal district court in Ohio.
In the brief, AMPA and OutServe-SLDN argue that the uneven patchwork of states providing marriage equality harms military families, undermines national security, cuts off earned benefits to veterans, and harms veterans. The brief, on which the law firm Chadbourne & Parke serves as counsel, urges the Court to end the discrimination caused by the lack of marriage equality by recognizing a constitutional right for people of the same sex to marry on the same terms as opposite-sex couples.
"Our military families deserve better than the discrimination and exclusion they face because of marriage inequality," said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA, Marine veteran, and spouse of an active duty Marine. "No service member or veteran should be denied access to their earned veterans benefits simply because of the gender of his or her spouse and the state they are stationed or live in. It's outrageous that service members and veterans are still being treated this way by not only some states, but the federal government as well."
The brief asserts that: "While the strain of frequent moves impacts the recruitment and retention of opposite-sex married couples in the military, that impact is more profound on same-sex married couples in the military. No legally married couple would look fondly upon a move from a state where the couples' marriage is recognized to a state where their marriage is annulled for state-law purposes....
(T)he lack of uniform marriage recognition laws from state to state for same-sex married couples poses a threat to veterans and their families.... Title 38, which confers veterans' benefits, is inartfully drafted and Veterans Affairs ("VA") is struggling to make sense of it. Consequently, veterans' benefits have not yet been forthcoming to all married gay and lesbian service members....
The lack of marriage recognition is a strain on these military families, and an unnecessary distraction for service members who all too often find themselves in harm's way while trying to protect this country. Ending this discrimination by requiring states to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry would protect these families, and best serve the needs of the modern military."
This is the seventh brief filed jointly with the courts by AMPA and Outserve-SLDN this year.