Last month I was sad to hear that the Fort Bragg Officers’ Club denied membership to a spouse because she is married to a service member of the same sex. As a member of our Spouses’ Club, it really upset me because to me the club is really a place to build community and meet new people, make friends, support your local base. Being new to an area can be nervewracking, you don’t know where things are, you may not know many people, so a club like this is a great place to start making those connections and learning about your new base. So why deny someone that wants to be a part of that?
The whole situation needs some crisis communication help, but it seems that the reasoning behind the denial is that the spouse doesn’t have a Dependent ID, since even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no longer in effect, gay and straight service members work in the same units alongside one another, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) still is in effect, basically meaning same-sex married spouses are not able to have benefits, even something as simple as an ID card that gives access to base.
But here’s the thing, the federal government, namely the Obama administration/Attorney General’s office, no longer even defends DOMA in court. When the Supreme Court hears a case this year about DOMA, one of the issues they want arguments on is if House Republicans can defend the law in court. Basically this means that not only could the Supreme Court uphold or strike down DOMA, they could also rule that they shouldn’t have even heard the case and send it back to lower courts (which have already stricken it down the law multiple times).
So while all of this is going on, more like at a standstill, the Marine Corps announced this week that all Spouses Clubs on their bases must allow same-sex spouses to join or be kicked off base. I think this is an AMAZING step in the right direction. For me, I believe that a spouse is a spouse, it doesn’t matter if they are the same or different genders, it’s about their love for each other. And clubs on bases, like spouses clubs, help build and support community, so why not allow them in? They love and support their service member just as heterosexual couples do. I think that with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the armed services have a great opportunity to show the country how we can support same-sex couples on a larger scale, through benefits and memberships to these organizations.
Now of course benefits is a larger issue going back to DOMA, but these spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, are experiencing the same thing every spouse goes through: moving, deployments, raising a family, etc. So let’s welcome these spouses with open arms, because for awhile they’ve been there as boyfriends and girlfriends, and now in states across the country they are saying “I Do,” just like the rest of us.
Are you as happy as I am about the Marines decision? When do you think other service branches will follow suit or will they?