I try to write profanity-free. I'm not exactly profanity-free in my normal, walking-around-in-the world self, but I just think it looks icky on my blog. But right now, I am so annoyed that this is gonna be hard. HARD!
So today I learned a couple things about DOMA, and in so doing, learned that I didn't really know much about DOMA in the first place. Basically, I knew that DOMA = the Defense of Marriage Act. I knew that it was passed by Congress and defined marriage by the Federal government as a union between a man and a woman. And I knew that it's a silly waste of time for the conservatives in this country who are trying dearly to cling to their definition of marriage when clearly the tide on this issue is moving against them. It's only a matter of time. OK, that last part was less fact than opinion. But anyway... So really what I thought of DOMA was that it was stupid and temporary.
Today I learned what DOMA really does. DOMA prevents the Federal government from providing any tax-payer money to same-sex couples in any sort of marriage benefit, even if they were are legally married in one of the many United States that allow gay marriage, since the Federal government does not recognize their marriage. I guess I knew this. Kinda. But gay couples have never gotten any sort of marriage benefits from the Federal government before, so I guess I never thought anything of it. Until I learned about the impact that it has on gay soldiers.
With the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay and lesbian Americans can now serve openly in the United States Armed Forces. Finally. Finally, your sexual preferences have nothing to do with whether you are able to serve your country. Finally, service personnel do not have to lie about who they are. Finally.
However, gay couples receive none of the marriage benefits that heterosexual service personnel receive. None. This is not because the military doesn't want to do it or the rules haven't kept up. It is because DOMA prevents any taxpayer money from going to pay any marriage benefits to same-sex couples. Some of the many things gay service members don't receive include:
- Lower housing allowances, since the military must treat them as if they are single.
- No on-base family housing.
- No military ID cards for spouses, meaning spouses cannot enter military bases without being escorted by a service member. So no shopping at commissaries, which often have reduced prices for service members and their families. No access to the military medical facilities. No access to recreational activities that happen on base among military families.
- Lower disability payments to disabled veterans, again, because the military must treat them as if they are single.
- No survivor benefits to your spouse you are killed in action.
- No ability to be buried next to your spouse in a military cemetery.
- No travel allowances to spouses to attend repatriation ceremonies for service members killed in action.
And how about all those services denied to the families of living, gay service personnel? Your spouse can't come on base without an escort? You can't live on base with your family? Because (let's all put our head in the sand and pretend that) you're not really a family!?
I tell you what. If every SINGLE person who voted for and supports the Defense of Marriage Act agrees to serve a single tour in Afghanistan, I'll shut the hell up. But until that time, the brave Americans who are fighting and dying for our country should get every single benefit that they are due. Every. Single. Benefit.
For those of you that are in the military or who are gay, I am sorry for being late to the party. I know that all of this is old news. But dammit, I am on board now. Because THIS is bullshit.