As the influence and legal premises for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) continue to weaken, surprisingly, what has developed is a “real life marriage” between these two outdated and discriminatory policies.
Who knew that one of the consequences of the lifting of DADT and the Obama Administration’s parallel decision to no longer defend DOMA, would be the growing participation of same-sex couples in the life of the military?
Bringing this into sharp focus recently was the report that a woman married to a female lieutenant colonel at the Army’s Fort Bragg believes she was rejected from an officers’ spouse club because she’s gay. Less than a day later, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, U.S. Marine Corps Major General and Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, advised Marine Corps legal staff that “such clubs conducting business on its bases must admit same-sex spouses. If they do not, the clubs will be barred from meeting on any Marine Corps installation.”
Ary wrote that clubs cannot discriminate against any member because of “race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, or national origin. We would interpret a spouse’s club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.”
Even though it was an Army’s spouse-club which denied entry to Ashley Broadway, the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack, Ary evidently wanted to be ahead of the curve and warned, “We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard.”
Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan said, “We expect that all who are interested in supporting Marine Corps Family Readiness would be welcome to participate and will be treated with dignity and respect.”
In English: Admit gay couples or fold your clubs and leave America’s bases!
This event offers a striking change in the attitude of the USMC. In February 2010, Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, said that gays should not be allowed to serve openly in the military that “the policy known as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ should be left alone.” At the time, other hateful fear mongers such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an organization designated as a hate group by The Southern Poverty Law Center, warned that if DADT was lifted “…40 percent of Marines and 25 percent of the Army could leave.”
Better check your research, Mr. Perkins!
Offering further proof of the marriage between the military and same-sex couples is a new photo project entitled “Portraits of Same-Sex Military Couples.” Australian-born artist Tatjana Plitt has photographed same-sex couples as part of her “Gay Warriors” series (shown here). The project offers an intimate glimpse of gay/lesbian military couples at a historic juncture for DADT/DOMA.
According to Tatjana’s press release, “The photos themselves are an homage to 17th century marriage and family portraits…providing a contemporary take on the notion of traditional marriage and family.”
Explained Plitt, “DOMA prevents the military from recognizing same-sex marriage. This means that even if a gay soldier is married, they are not entitled to many of the benefits, support and rights their heterosexual counterparts
However, that hasn’t stopped the Marines from making history!
An active duty U.S. Marine Corps captain made history by becoming the first gay man to pop the question to his partner at the White House. A photo of the romantic proposal on Facebook shows Matthew Phelps dropping to his knee before partner Ben Schock.
Last year, Scout, a transgendered man, proposed to his partner, Liz Margolies, during a White House reception in honor of LGBT Pride Month. President Obama had just addressed the guests who were now listening to the U.S. Marine Band when Scout got down on one knee and popped the question. (No doubt the Marine Band played “The Marines’ Hymn” which says, “First to fight for right and freedom, And to keep our honor clean; We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.”)
Meanwhile at the U.S. Military Academy’s Cadet Chapel at West Point Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in a ceremony conducted by a senior Army chaplain.
And finally, the Washington National Cathedral announced that it would begin holding same-sex weddings. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said, “For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples. It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit.
DOMA plus DADT, as the Bible says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
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