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DOMA: New lawsuit filed on behalf of gay and lesbian servicemembers

DOMA trials

By Adam Bink

As noted in the comments by Greg in SLC, today a new lawsuit was filed on behalf of gay and lesbian servicemembers, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The lawsuit is being filed in district court in Boston (the same court that handed down the successful decision in Gill v. OPM). Michael Lavers from EDGE Media Network:

A group of gay and lesbian servicemembers and veterans filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a federal court in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 27.

The eight plaintiffs, who have 159 years of military service between them, maintain that DOMA specifically prohibits the military from offering their spouses the same family support and benefits that married heterosexual servicemembers automatically receive. These include on-base housing, health care, survivor benefits and burial rights at national cemeteries.

“The case we are bringing today is about one thing, plain and simple: It’s about justice for gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 27. “These couples are in long-term, committed and legally recognized marriages and the military shouldn’t be forced to turn their back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

Among the plaintiffs is Capt. Steve Hill, an Army reservist who is stationed in Iraq who submitted a YouTube question about the end of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers during a Republican presidential candidate debate in Florida last month.

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan returned to New Hampshire from Kuwait in August where she lives with her wife Karen Morgan and their four-year-old daughter. A full-time officer with the New Hampshire National Guard, Charlie Morgan was recently diagnosed with breast cancer after a recurrence. She pointed out that her inability to obtain a military identification card prevents her from taking her daughter on base to take advantage of the facilities and other services other married couples receive.

“We’re just looking to receive the same benefits and opportunities as our married heterosexual counterparts,” said Charlie Morgan as her wife stood by her side. “Time may not be on our side.”

The repeal of ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ became official on Sept. 20, but SLDN and other groups continue to stress that the end of the Clinton-era law is an important first step towards remedying long-standing inequalities against gay and lesbian servicemembers.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit a week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate a bill that would repeal DOMA. The White House announced earlier this year that it would no longer defend the Clinton-era statute, but House Republicans continue to back the law.

Retired Capt. Joan Darrah of Alexandria, Va., was a naval intelligence officer until she retired from the Navy in 2002. Seven of her colleagues died in the room in which she had been working in the Pentagon moments before American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001. Under DADT, Darrah said her partner of nearly 20 years, Lynne Kennedy, would not have been notified of her death.

The entire case filing can be found here.


  • 1. Dana_Jeanne  |  October 27, 2011 at 8:57 am

    What happens to all the brave people who came out when DADT was repealed if the Republicans get back in office and repeal the repeal? It's like a tug of war with humans in the middle being torn apart.

  • 2. Sam_Handwich  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I sincerely doubt that DADT will ever be reinstated. It was repealed with very broad public support, and rare (for these days) bi-partisan support in the senate.

    All the current GOP rhetoric is just that … a sad appeal to the lowest common denominator of their political base.

  • 3. DaveP  |  October 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I wish that were true, but just look at what happened in New Hampshire a few days ago. Even though the public does not support the idea of denying equal marriage rights now that they have been established, the friggen bigots in the government just voted to move ahead with repealing equal marriage rights anyway.

    So until SCOTUS puts a stop to this, our rights will be yanked around by politicians for their own benefit, as dictated by the conservative special interest groups to whom they answer, regardless of what is right and even regardless of what the majority of their own constituents want.

    The public should not vote on equal rights, and elected representatives should not vote on equal rights. As long as this is allowed, THEY ARE NOT EQUAL RIGHTS and the court needs to make this clear.

  • 4. Ronnie  |  October 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Awesome, keep up the pressure……… Subscribing & sharing…..

    Our Day in Gay America: The Advocate Staff
    As part of our look into the everyday lives of LGBT people across the nation, we invite you inside the world of the The Advocate for a snapshot of life on August 12.:

    A Day In Gay America 2011: Families
    Antigay activists want Americans to believe LGBT people will destroy the family. But our Day in Gay America project, which asked for reader photos from August 12, shows just the opposite.:

    & today's 2011 LGBT History Month Icon……

    “I'd rather not be the first but someone has to be.” ~ Amanda Simpson, the 1st openly transgender female presidential appointee. She is the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics &Technology in the U.S. Department of Defense. She has a bachelor's degree in physics, master's degrees in engineering &business administration &as an undergraduate she trained as a pilot, is a certified flight instructor &has her airline transport pilot certificate. Read more about her here:

    [youtube Pn204MpNxLE youtube]

  • 5. Sagesse  |  October 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Just keep 'em coming, I say. The effect on LGBT servicemembers and their families is a big part of why DOMA has to go, and important leverage to get the repeal through the Senate, and maybe even the House.

  • 6. Ann S.  |  October 27, 2011 at 9:57 am


  • 7. _BK_  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    This is wonderful. Keep on fighting in the courts, and we'll keep up the fight on our territory. Thanks for all you do!

  • 8. Fr. Bill  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

    GREAT!!!! Let's have DOMA cases pending in every single US Federal District Court in the nation. Can Boehner and the Republicans justify spending $150,000,000 to defend DOMA? They are alreaddy committed to $1.5 million.

  • 9. Bob  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

    ANOTHER STEP FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!! every one counts,,,, good work

  • 10. Alan_Eckert  |  October 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    If you can stomach it, OneNewsNow ran a story that is supposedly from the AP. The scare quotes are a dead giveaway that the story has at least been altered.

  • 11. Sagesse  |  October 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Here's the unedited AP release.

    Gay and lesbian military members sue US for rights

  • 12. José Merentes  |  October 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Lesbian marriage in Kenya:_ _

  • 13. Fluffyskunk  |  October 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Not a lesbian marriage, I'm afraid; that's a nominally heterosexual "marriage" between a woman and her female "husband" contracted not for love but for financial reasons. Even the language is that of heterosexual-only marriage; the infertile woman is considered formally male for the purposes of the marriage, in order to make it possible. This is no victory for LGBT Kenyans.

  • 14. Ronnie  |  October 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Husband of Booed Soldier Discusses GOP Debate, Lawsuit Challenging DOMA Filed by SLDN: VIDEO:

    "Josh Snyder, husband of Stephen Hill, the soldier booed at a GOP debate last month, talks about that debate and the suit being filed today by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of seven troops and two veterans challenging the Defense of Marriage Act."

    [youtube DzpOKKBg7A8 youtube]

  • 15. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  November 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

    […] were restful and filled with family.  Earlier this week, there was an update in a lawsuit filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) in October called McLaughlin v. Panetta, and I […]

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