- Posted January 22, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Fight, Bleed, Die - Equality? No
- hhanks, CNN iReport producer
We are in a new era or so we are told. It was evident during Monday's inaugural speech by President Barack Obama accepting the trust of the US of A for a second term. The President made history by use of the term "gay" twice during his address to the nation. He also placed the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City, reputed to be the start of the gay rights movement, on the same footing with the civil rights milestones of Seneca Falls for women's rights and the Selma March for African-American rights.
Yet, as historic and how flourishing the rhetoric, which placed the fight by the GLBT for equality in America by the President on the front page, it does not match up to the reality on the ground.
Out military service members may now openly fight in wars and battles deemed in the national interest. Out members may now bleed to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. Out gay and lesbian military personel may die to ensure our freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. But when it comes to legal same-gender spouses having the same rights, benefits and privileges as those of opposite-gender spouses, the military and Department of Defense says, "No."
Yes, thanks to President Obama, unlike when I was in the Air Force, men and women no longer have to keep their sexuality in the "closet". Being out and proud is no longer an impediment to service to the nation. But, as many news reports attest in the last week and lawsuits filed in federal court over the last year, equality is still not a reality for out service members and their legal same-gender spouses.
Unlike opposite-gender spouses, same-gender spouses cannot recieve a military identification card. Same-gender spouses are denied medical benefits and cannot seek treatment at military hospitals. Same-gender couples cannot receive housing allowances offered to opposite-gender couples. From medical benefits, access to clubs and associations, base commissary privileges and so much more, these are denied to the loved ones who are legally wed same-gender spouses.
The Army cites that the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not provide for an exception for sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination statute. The Marine Corps by contrast, when it comes to clubs and associations, is pressing those civilian, but military support organizations, to open the doors to same-gender spouses if those associations want to continue to meet and operate on base.
The Department of Defense has come out in defense of the Army's stand.
While the President talks about acceptance and furtherance of equality for same-gender couples, he has not proposed legislation to change the UCMJ. The President has not sent any guidance to the DOD to allow or provide for equality of same-gender spouses.
Talk is fine, but it is action that matters.
The President's Administration has dropped defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. But at the same time, the President has not sent legislation to Congress to repeal DOMA. The President continues to allow his departments to discriminate against same-gender couples across the nation even in states where same-gender couples enjoy legal status.
The Supreme Court in March will take on DOMA. How the Court rules may either advance equality or will push the fight for equality back for a decade or more.
It is time for more than just lofty speeches. It is time for action to ensure that all Americans are treated equally and fairly under the law.
From the Cornfield, while I still believe whether to grant legal status to same-gender and opposite-gender couples falls under states rights and authority, the federal government has no business denying equality especially after a state has granted that equality. It is time for a lot less talk and a lot more action from President Obama on the federal level and especially with same-gender military spouses.
If our out military members can fight, bleed and die for our country, their loved ones, those spouses keeping the home fires burning deserve to be treated equally under the law.