Matthew Alex Ward
Through explicit statements and an array of support programs, the military has demonstrated its deep commitment to military families. In addition, since the passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act in 2010, which permitted LGB servicemembers to serve openly, the military has clearly expressed its belief that sexual orientation is a ‘nonissue’ in the military. Given these facts, it would seem that the military would not seek to discriminate between military families based on sexual orientation.
Yet the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) frustrates this logical outcome. DOMA prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and permits states to refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages from other states. As a result, DOMA prevents the military from supporting all its military families, even as the military recognizes that family readiness improves military readiness and the efforts of military spouses benefit the military. In addition, inconsistent state laws on same-sex marriage create obstacles for LGB military families. Only once same-sex marriage is recognized nationwide will the military be able to make sexual orientation a true nonissue and realize its promise to support the families of all servicemembers. The military must, therefore, lead in the fight for marriage equality.