Pentagon to give marriage benefits to gay spouses following Supreme Court victory on DOMA

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel just announced that the Pentagon will make marriage benefits available all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this morning.

DOMA, among other things, forbade the federal government from providing the federal benefits of marriage to legally-wed gay couples.

Still unresolved is whether the Pentagon will provide these benefits to gay couples from states where gay marriage is still not legal.

Still, this is huge news on a huge news day. I’d already reported earlier that an immigration judge in New York had stopped the deportation of a gay Colombian man, who is married to an American, following the Supreme Court’s decision.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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40 Responses to “Pentagon to give marriage benefits to gay spouses following Supreme Court victory on DOMA”

  1. BeccaM says:

    In fact for NM, it’s to the contrary: The law on the books specifically says that New Mexico must recognize any legal marriage performed in other jurisdictions, subject to a short list of restrictions. (For example, no polygamous marriages, no marriages to underage minors, etc.) Same-sex marriages are conspicuously NOT on that list.

    My recollection is there are already some new cases wending through the state courts, sure to be bolstered by the DOMA overturning. There’s also a broad difference between “not recognized” and “banned.”

  2. JohnInCA says:

    I haven’t had the time to check the rulings themselves, but it doesn’t actually matter. Section 2 was always redundant. States have always had the privilege to not recognize a marriage they wouldn’t perform in their own state. They normally don’t bother (as face it, since the miscegenation laws were struck down it’s hard to tell if a straight marriage is on the banned list in a state, so it only comes out in divorce) but it’s a long-established state privilege to give other states the finger.

    Gay couples are just special because we’re more immediately obvious if a state doesn’t like us.

  3. JohnInCA says:

    Heh, me and my partner are in a some-what similar situation. For various reasons, he’s currently spending most of his time in New Mexico while I’m in California working. So NM’s ambivalence on marriage is kinda putting a downer on this for me.

    I know that in the past the state has refused to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages (even though there’s nothing on the books to support this), and I don’t see how the DOMA or Prop 8 cases change that, so I suspect EQNM is still gonna have a fight in the state.

  4. karmanot says:

    Yep, the trust is set.

  5. BeccaM says:

    I’ve noticed it happening rather frequently now.

  6. MyrddinWilt says:

    One thing I forgot to point out was that when DOMA passed fewer straights were considering marriage. It had gone out of fashion. The marriage equality movement turned that round.

  7. Thom Allen says:

    Gerry Brown just told the California clerks to be ready to start issuing marriage licenses just as soon as the 9th Circuit acts.

  8. nicho says:

    The spammers have a new trick. Instead of just posting their “making money on the computer” spam, they snag a paragraph from someone else’s post to make it look like they’re actually responding. In this case, they took the second paragraph from my post below.

  9. GAftly8524 says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    And I would still like a definitive answer from someone on whether
    they struck down DOMA or merely Section 3 of DOMA. The language in the
    ruling would seem to indicate that they found all of DOMA
    unconstitutional — not just one part of it.

  10. Drew2u says:

    Yes. And knowing does not translate directly into action.

  11. nicho says:

    Do we have to sign a petition? Don’t they just know how we feel from reading our emails and listening to our phone calls?

  12. JozefAL says:

    Let’s also don’t forget to thank Bob Barr and the rest of the Congress that passed DOMA by LARGE, VETO-OVERRIDING majorities (a 40+ margin in the House, and a nearly 20-vote margin in the Senate) and sent the thing to Clinton just SIX WEEKS before the November Presidential election. But, I suppose history and facts are completely irrelevant to the Clinton haters.
    By the way. Do you remember what Obama’s position was on DOMA when he was running for President? No? Maybe because he didn’t have one. He was beyond silent on LGBT issues during the 2008 primaries and general election (and then waited until after the mid-term elections to “shift” his attention). Oh, and another thing for you to consider, karmanot–In 2008, do you happen to remember what Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama, did when asked to comment on California’s Prop 8? He kept silent. He said it wasn’t “proper” for him to get involved in a STATE issue. But, surprisingly, in 2012, when North Carolina put a same-sex marriage ban into its constitution, Obama decided it WAS proper for him to get involved in a state issue. I wonder why Obama changed his mind? Because he didn’t think that Californians would actually strip rights from people because it’s “so liberal” but North Carolina would because it’s part of the “racist South?” (Also, when trying to paint Obama as some sort of gay pal, just remember it was OBAMA who PERSONALLY selected Donnie McClurkin to headline a “tour” of South Carolina to rally the “Black evangelical” vote–before the LGBT community pointed out how antigay McClurkin’s ministry was–and is. Then, Obama blathered that he’d only picked McClurkin because he knew how popular McClurkin was but he didn’t know anything about McClurkin’s ministry. Obama’s just as much an opportunist as every other politician. I’ll fucking guarantee if Obama had been in the US House or Senate in 1996, he would’ve voted FOR DOMA. When he ran for President, he pulled out the old “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman because of my religious beliefs” canard.)

  13. nicho says:

    The 25 delay is so that the plaintiffs can have a chance to request a rehearing before SCOTUS, but since their case was dismissed for lack of standing and not on the merits, it seems that a request along those lines would be a waste of time and money (not that that has ever stopped them before). Once the 25 days are up, the 9th Circuit will have to remove the stay. Then, the marriages can begin.

  14. Drew2u says:

    Get a nice lacquer and it’ll be beautiful!

  15. Monoceros Forth says:

    Wood! I rather like that idea, having worked a bit with hardwoods myself. Got some African blackwood in storage…

  16. BeccaM says:

    What we’ve more or less decided has been to wait a few weeks, watch to see what happens for California. If the situation there looks at all uncertain in terms of possible delays, Washington is second on the list.

    Either way, we’re definitely planning on getting this done before the end of August. Hopefully sooner.

  17. nicho says:

    Yeah, we have both.

  18. nicho says:

    Too late

  19. BeccaM says:

    Thanks. And I think the thing to do would be as we’ll likely have to do — consult with an attorney who can deal with the new conditions and walk us through the path that makes the most senses.

    There have to be other hetero married couples out there who are in similar situations, and probably various ways around it through the use of irrevocable trusts and the like.

  20. Drew2u says:

    I always figured I’d get a wood/metal ring combo with the wood from my farm/orchard. :)
    I’d say if at least a marriage license can be obtained and paid for, go for that first and then have the ceremony, exchanging of vows & rings, later when you two can afford it. Securing those benefits, would be my first priority (mine, not saying you have to do the same thing).

  21. FLL says:

    Thanks. Your reply is informative.

  22. BeccaM says:

    If we come to CA, Bay Area is where we’ll be. Mostly in/near Sunnyvale where friends of ours live, although probably motel because they just recently had a baby.

  23. karmanot says:

    You touch on an interesting point M. For some low income seniors it would mean benefit cuts in some cases and when at or near the poverty line that would prove disastrous for some folks. I’m thinking of programs like In Home Support, which if among married couples would result in roughly a 30% loss of income—an income usually at or slightly above minimum wage and usually only part time. This agrees with Becca’s assessment of state’s DOMA, but she is right about the Fed enchiada. We may have to do it at the last moment to thwart interfering family and secure SS rights.

  24. BeccaM says:

    If the Feds are clear in extending all of the 1100+ rights and privileges at the federal level, what just happened is the anti-equality world just got a whole lot smaller. Not gone, since the mini-DOMAs (state level) weren’t overturned, but those federal rights are the big enchilada.

  25. Monoceros Forth says:

    Thanks :) Definitely I’ll be discussing this tonight. I just wish we weren’t so damn broke. I’d like to get rings, at least. Not sure what sort. I’ve thought I’d like to commission rings to be machined from Stellite or Monel metal–something interesting like that.

  26. BeccaM says:

    Good to know. So I guess a marriage, no matter which state where it’s performed, would be considered an “add-on upgrade package” to what we’ve already got.

  27. karmanot says:

    OMGosh. If you come to SF let us know.

  28. karmanot says:

    Lets don’t forget to thank Clinton for DOMA, before he takes credit for the new rulings.

  29. Drew2u says:

    Hopefully federal benefits, at the very least. That’s something to really consider – especially legal stuff like federal taxes and, god forbid, testifying against one another in court.
    So, Mazel Tov!

  30. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’ve scarcely given such matters any consideration yet, even though my partner and I live in a state where marriage is legal. We’ve been hesitant to take the plunge, however, partly because of money, partly because of the necessity of involving family (at least on my partner’s side), but also because there’s still a decent chance we might be forced to move to a different state where I can find work, and then what would our WA state marriage mean actually?

  31. Drew2u says:

    Here’s a petition that someone started to help with equal federal benefits for same-sex couples!

    …. A couple married in New York but living in Montana would not be eligible for many federal
    benefits. They would be married according to the Department of Defense, but not according to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs!

    President Obama can immediately issue an executive order directing federal agencies to enact a uniform place of celebration standard so that all married couples have equal federal benefits.”

  32. nicho says:

    California ruling won’t take effect for 25 days, at least — so don’t pack the car just yet.

    You can keep your DP status, and it’s advised to do so. There are some states with anti-marriage laws, but they still accept DPs.

  33. BeccaM says:

    One thing is for sure: It’s going to be an interesting month of July for LGBT news and developments.

    The wife and I are trying to decide when and/or whether we need to make a trip. We’d do it immediately, except for the fact I’m snowed under with work at the moment. (Which, from a family financial standpoint, is not a bad thing at all.) And we’d rather do this in our former home state, California, so we’d have to wait anyway until the 9th Circuit does whatever judge-y dance it has to do to lift the PropH8 overturn stay.

    Going purely subjective here, this alone is what’s on our plate:

    – What happens to our California Domestic Partnership?
    – If we need to travel out-of-state to marry, does the DP interfere or can we just marry in any marriage-equality state and have that override/reinforce the DP?
    – NM state law says it has to recognize legal out-of-state marriages, does that mean they’ll recognize ours if we go do it elsewhere?
    – As others have pointed out, we still don’t have absolute clarity on the status (and rights) of same-sex couples who legally marry, but live in state that specifically bans their marriages.
    – NM state law also says a married couple cannot be sole co-owners of a LLC (which is how I run my business). So will we need to add another partner to keep it legal?
    – Our state AG is also supposed to weigh in post-DOMA on what this all means for NM and whether or not our gov’t would accept as moot the legality of same-sex marriage, including NM-issued licenses.
    – Our taxes just became way the hell more complicated

    I saw somebody joking elsewhere on the toobz: “Today is a very good day to be a caterer or a marriage law attorney.”

  34. Naja pallida says:

    In most cases, even if the base itself is considered a federal enclave, off-base housing – even when it is housing specifically intended for military families, generally is not. So the actual place of residence isn’t considered to be federal property, and thus state law applies. It’s annoyingly and unnecessarily complicated. If both spouses worked on the base, it gets even more odd, because employment laws would be federal, but taxation and probate laws would be state. The military generally has legal advice available for military families to help overcome these issues if they become a problem. I would hope they’ve been expecting this and have been working on how to resolve the legal issues.

  35. nicho says:

    The ruling seems quite unambiguous, DOMA is unconstitutional — not just a part of DOMA.

  36. Indigo says:

    Yes, the stories are colliding with each other and no clear information has surfaced yet.

  37. FLL says:

    “Still unresolved is whether the Pentagon will provide these benefits to
    gay couples from states where gay marriage is still not legal.”

    It occurred to me that you might be talking about same-sex couples who married in an equality state, but one partner is stationed in a non-equality state, so that’s where the couple resides. Aren’t military bases considered federal property and, therefore, subject to military/federal regulations? For example, military bases in the South were integrated during the late 1950s, but as soon as you left the base, local segregation laws would be in effect.

  38. nicho says:

    the bigotry of the right.

    But that’s pretty much all the conservatives have. Their whole philosophy is bigotry in one form or another.

    And I would still like a definitive answer from someone on whether they struck down DOMA or merely Section 3 of DOMA. The language in the ruling would seem to indicate that they found all of DOMA unconstitutional — not just one part of it.

  39. MyrddinWilt says:

    Where you get married is a lot less important than where you get the benefits of marriage. It is not over yet. But it is almost as good as.

    DOMA was meant to erect a firewall against gay marriage, it did the exact opposite. What really gave the fire to the campaign and make marriage the #1 priority was passing DOMA. Before DOMA lots of people were saying civil marriages were sufficient, work on ENDA. Afterwards it became the poster child for bigotry.

    The cost of these bigotries is adding up for the GOP. The LGBT community might only be 5% of the vote but under 35s support LGBT rights by a big margin. DOMA is dead despite the Republican party attempting to fight to the last ditch. Murkowski deserves some credit for jumping off the sinking ship. But she lost her primary so the GOP can’t really claim credit for her actions.

    I have to wonder just how many people on the ‘left’ are really that leftwing and how many have just gone over to the left because they can’t stand the bigotry of the right.

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