By Carol Rood
I usually stay away from political commentary, however, I have been reading more and more about the hypocrisy of the Federal Government, and the more I read the angrier I get. Now don’t get me wrong, I am the kind of girl who does NOT believe everything I read, but the evidence is mounting and I am upset!
When I was in the military and in a same-gendered relationship, we had to hide everything. Of course most people were able to put two and two together, but we were not able to be open about with whom we were in a relationship.
When President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), I for one was thrilled. This meant that military personnel would be able to be open about who they loved and not have to hide and be in fear anymore. We saw the first public Pier homecoming kiss of two women in Norfolk and the first public Marine homecoming kiss. Both of those sights brought tears to my eyes.
Many Gay and Lesbian military personnel have married their partners and in many states that is perfectly legal. However, due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal Government only respects marriages between a man and a woman. This means that same sex couples are not allowed to have the same benefits heterosexual couples enjoy. These benefits include military ID cards, access to the Commissary and exchange, not to mention medical and dental benefits. In addition, heterosexual military personnel receive extra housing money that their single military members do not receive.
This difference in pay has always been contentious even without adding in the same sex relationship issues. I know single military members who have long complained about the difference in pay, especially when there are no children in the family. Why should a married person with no children receive more housing money than a single person with no children? But that is not my concern today.
Today I am concerned with the lack of benefits same sex couples receive due to DOMA. And when I started doing research to write this to ensure I wasn’t making false allegations it came to my attention that the House Republicans will be spending up to 3 MILLION dollars to defend DOMA when the question of its constitutionality goes before the Supreme Court this year. So out of one side of their mouths they want to reduce spending and out of the other side they want to spend 3 MILLION dollars to defend DOMA?? Hypocrisy at its finest in my opinion.
President Obama himself has stated that he thinks DOMA is unconstitutional and directed the Attorney General to no longer defend DOMA. In this past election voters enacted laws to allow gay marriages. When are the Republicans going to get with the program? They are not in step with what most Americans want and they will only continue to lose ground with the American people if they keep moving in this direction.
However, my biggest concerns is that our military personnel have been told they are allowed to be open about their sexuality but some have even been barred from spouses’ groups. In North Carolina a solider who had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan attended a couples’ retreat with her wife. After being there 24 hours they were asked to leave because they were “distracting other participants”. The Chaplain in charge of the retreat stated that the couple could not attend the retreat because the program was funded in such a way that it was only for heterosexual married couples.
Another couple who are stationed at Fort Bragg also experienced discrimination by a spouses’ group. The wife of a military member was told she could not join the Fort Bragg Association of Officer’s Spouses because she did not have an ID card. However, that rule was not listed in the Association’s bylaws when she applied to join.
The examples go on and on. Military spouses having to cover their own airfare and being denied access to military flights. Military spouses being denied housing pay. Military spouses being denied diplomatic visas so they can live with their spouses overseas.
These military personnel truly believed that when DADT was repealed they and their spouses would be able to fully participate in military life as equals to every other military member. So not much has truly changed. We are out, that is great, but gay service members are still being discriminated against. The difference since DADT was repealed is that now it is out in the open instead of hidden.