DOJ backs equal benefits for gay couples in the military

posted at 9:30 pm on February 18, 2012 by Tina Korbe

The administration yesterday announced that it will allow same-sex military spouses to receive marriage benefits like hospital visitation rights and side-by-side burials in military ceremonies:

In a letter to the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that the Justice Department shared the view of plaintiffs in a lawsuit in Massachusetts that such laws — including a part of the Defense of Marriage Act, and statutes governing veterans’ benefits —are unconstitutional. …

The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex spouses of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” he wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that could warrant treating these provisions differently from” the marriage act.

Two past administration decisions make this news decidedly not surprising. In the first place, the Justice Department has for months refused to defend a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (never mind that it’s law!). In the second, the Pentagon recently decided to allow military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages on and off federal bases.

News like this makes me ponder anew Ed’s opinion that the government should get out of the marriage business entirely. Perhaps he’s right. The benefits addressed by this decision have nothing to do with the religious meaning of marriage; they’re strictly practical matters. If I were in the military, I’d like to be able to confer hospital visitation rights on a person of my choosing no matter what their relation to me. Same story with side-by-side burials.

More importantly, though, news like this makes me extra sensitive to the religious liberty battle that’s waging across the country right now. We need conscience protections for military chaplains and, indeed, for all people of faith, to ensure that we’re never required to recognize same-sex marriage as an ordinance or sacrament of God.


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And I think this conversation is more you stating above that it was nearly impossible to have a contract marriage. I don’t know if it’s common. But I know people do it.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Well that and your misunderstandings about military health care.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 3:15 AM

Marxist culture war. Someday we really should start fighting back.

rayra on February 19, 2012 at 3:51 AM

Well that and your misunderstandings about military health care.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 3:15 AM

my misunderstanding about mil care?? is that so??? well, do excuse me if I understand the tricare benefits correctly which is they are there for the mil dependents who are that for real, and not for some scamming purposes…if you indeed use the tricare on a different base and your mil sponsor on another, you can justify this for a while, but there will come a point when a tricare admin will ask questions, if say for 10 years it appears from the records that you are your spouse were never treated on the same hospital on the same base by the same primary care physician which is the rule…the medical records are electronic now, all they have to do is put your sponsor name in the system and they have both your and their medical records in a sec, and it will show where you have been treated during the past n years…do you seriously think that a person who appears to have been treated all their life at some hospital in texas, while the mil sponsor PCS-ed 3,4 times to different locations/states, would go away with it without questions being asked, or without a commander being informed? especially now with the cuts in budget and all …you are saying that my experience is anecdotal, when all you bring at the table is also anecdotes, experiences of ‘buddies’ of yours, etc… first of all, when you give the examples of mil spouses who choose (or are forced to) to live away from their mil sponsors for a period or another, does not mean necessarily that they are doing it to scam the system…we also know people whose spouses had to move for a while to their home states to deal with sick relatives, or the mil sponsor deployed for a longer period and the civ spouses decided to go and live with family for a while, to get more help with the kids, etc…but this is not scamming, this is just life circumstances…it’s entirely different than getting married for the purposes of scamming the govt…Secondly, the benefits in question are not that great anyways to go to the length and do the ‘acrobatics’ that such a scam would require, especially for young mil service members…the house allowance increases with the rank, my definitive conclusion is that the higher the rank the more impossible to get away with a scam like this, because you are more exposed, more investigated,etc, more visible, more responsibility, etc…so, it pretty much wouldn’t even make sense to even try it because most likely you would be caught and lose your career…

jimver on February 19, 2012 at 4:35 AM

To the other points, you are not required to use Tricare on base. Or Delta dental. Your spouse is not required to reside with you.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 2:17 AM

wrong, you are required to use Tricare on base if they have a hospital or a clinic. don’t know which branch of the military you are/were, but most air force bases have hospitals on the base. what some of the clinics don’t have is emergency or urgent care, in which case you have to call tricare and ask for permission to use local hospitals for urgent/emergency care…even if you are granted the permission, you still have to follow up with your primary care physician after that, for a full investigation &/or treatment…urgent/emergency care is just that…so, in order to use your full mil health benefits you still have to go to a hospital on a base…so, I was right, you were not…

don’t know what Delta dental is, in the AF we use United Concordia dental…some of it is indeed off base (for dependents especially, if the on-base hospital has a small dental clinic in which case thy would serve only the mil sponsor), some of it is on base…especially overseas, england, germany, where they have big dental clinics on base that serve both the mil sponsors and the dependents…

jimver on February 19, 2012 at 4:48 AM

And I think this conversation is more you stating above that it was nearly impossible to have a contract marriage. I don’t know if it’s common. But I know people do it.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 3:07 AM

not really, my first comment about this whole thing was that in reality it is a lot more difficult scam (and pretty absurd, considering the huge risks) to pull off….some enlisted and very low ranks (and obviously not very smart) might want to try it, but you can’t pull it off for long, once you start making it higher through the ranks, it’s highly unlikely that such a secret could be kept and go unsanctioned…

jimver on February 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM

jimver on February 19, 2012 at 5:47 AM

Marxist culture war. Someday we really should start fighting back.

rayra on February 19, 2012 at 3:51 AM

This.

petefrt on February 19, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Jimver, Oh I completely agree in the old sense of the word “marriage” that it would be a scam to marry my buddy for the benefits. However, since the definition of marriage has changed to include same sex couples then the definition of a “scam marriage” should change also. I guess I am left wondering what makes gay couples so special? They found someone they care for, love, respect, and wish to live with in order to show that special relationship. I have a lot of friends and relatives I feel the same way about. The only difference is that gay couples engage in sexual relations to show it. So is the entire premises for gay marriage is getting the government to condone gay acts? If in my marriage we choose to not have sex with each other, but still show the love and respect strictly platonic heterosexual friends can have, then under the new definition of marriage why is that a scam?

If you still think it is a scam then the only real definition of marriage is one that requires both people to be sexually active with one another. I find it rather ridiculous that the military should be allowed to require me to show what goes on in my bedroom to show my marriage is not a scam. So the real argument is what makes a marriage? Is it sex? Is it love?

Or can marriage only be defined between a man and a women who consummate the relationship in order to try to have children? Everything else is just a loving and caring relationship, which some choose to show it with affection and some choose to show it other ways. I suppose once the government changed the original meaning of marriage then the military has no grounds to tell me how I define my marriage.

But I see your point jimver, I care too much about my career to be so stupid to be the first to try this new gay marriage trick. I will defer to some other activist in uniform to try this first. However, I know a lot of people who would not care and would attempt a scam like this. I will let them be the trailblazers on this one.

Jutt518 on February 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Jimver,
My husband got out of the Navy last June. We started off as a dual military couple, I got out in 2005. I stayed in MD while he finished his tour in San Diego. We received his duty station’s BAH rate, and I had an apartment with our daughter; he had berthing on his ship, but stayed at a friend’s house most of the time. No one on his ship had really met me, but they were aware of our situation. Then, a few years later, again we had to maintain separate households in two states. He lived in the barracks an drove home on the weekends. We have spent the majority of our relationship apart, never lived close to base after he made E-6, I never went to base functions or made friends with other military spouses, and was always able to use medical off base, even when Tim was 3000 miles away. He retained his clearance, stationed at NSA twice. He’s now a civilian in Afghanistan for a year. Ew have lived a strange life, but it’s not uncommon in the military. No one could really say one way or the other if we were faking it, though, if they didn’t know the fine details. Nobody really cared.

As to the thread, the government needs to get out of the marriage business, and the military needs to be exempted from social experimentation. There will always be gays that will want to serve, and will do honorably- and without wanting a cookie for being special. But the military is its own animal, I wish people would remember that.

Anna on February 19, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Holder should be in PRISON, not making policy.

And for his complicity to murder, shouldn’t he be facing death by firing squad?

wildcat72 on February 18, 2012 at 10:36 PM

That’s too much of an honorable disposition.
The Hexenturm!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaYfWD7Fxpo

I used to live near this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Idstein-Hexenturm.jpg

That pic was taken from in front of my favorite Gasthaus.
(grinsen)

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 19, 2012 at 8:37 AM

jimver on February 19, 2012 at 4:35 AM

You don’t understand the military health care system if you think a service member is required to keep their spouse close to then. The more you say this, the more I think your story is just that. A story. I read back through the thread this morning because you seem so convinced of your point. Looks like you started with a hearthy defense of gay marriage. I guess that would be a strong motivation for you to claim that gays can’t scam the system. Sorry, they can. People already do. A military family aleady has the ability to request a Primary Care Manager away from post. If your spouse was staying at their home of record for an extended period they could do that. And a spouse doesn’t have to use the facilities on post if they have their own health care plan where they work. And really, they can use Delta Dental (or Concordia) anywhere it’s accepted. I’m not sure an Army spouse was even seen on post for anything except dental emergencies. I’ll just repeat that the bigger motivation in the immediate sense is the BAQ or BHA and VHA. If they weren’t interested in the health care they could live on Mars and their “spouse” would still be drawing these entitlements.

You also made a claim that you were only going on about ID card because someone claimed a dependent can get a card without being there.

I think russ86 was referring to dependents as in kids living with the ex of the mil person, in a different state or at a different location, but anyways…that’s an entirely different thing…the ID card thing doesn’t prove anything, I was just responding to that post who said that as a dependent spouse you can get your ID renewed without being present…that hasn’t been my experience or that of anyone I know…

No one ever made that claim. Russ said the military member didn’t have to be there. You also made a lot of your argument that the spouse had to be with the military member and it just isn’t the case. I know people who live away from their spouses and there are several who have commented before me telling you the same thing. If you’re going to keep going on like it’s not possible, then you just look silly. You also tried to change the argument a little when you asked me if I thought all the examples I was giving were people scamming the system. I was really just correcting your points, like these other people are also. I’m only saying the rules as they’re standing now would easily allow people to take advantage of the military benefits. I’m not sure to what scale, but it does happen. And someone mentioned a military official would probably be even more afraid of questioning the claim of a gay marriage for fearof being attacked like they do.

Prove that’s wrong.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM

And Jimver, military spouse, I was a junior NCO (Sergeant E5) in the 101st and 82nd Airborne. Sorry you had to stay up all night trying to prove your point and doing so poorly at it. Get some sleep now. I’m sure your hubby will be needing to present you to his chain of command sometime today to prove he’s still married.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 9:35 AM

As to the thread, the government needs to get out of the marriage business, and the military needs to be exempted from social experimentation. There will always be gays that will want to serve, and will do honorably- and without wanting a cookie for being special. But the military is its own animal, I wish people would remember that.

Anna on February 19, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Couldn’t agree more Anna.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Seems to me equal rights for gays is a good thing…except redefining marriage. If 3% of the people want to be in union with one of their own sex, fine. Give them all the rights associated with such a union — hospital visitation, taxation, and death benefits. But don’t define it as marriage, because that has repercussions to all the other 97%. Many gays just want to get the same rights as a heterosexual couple. Fine. But some aren’t happy until they make the church recognize them as equal standing under God. They can try to force that legally by judges and legislators (although a vote of the people has never made that happen — at least 28 states have had the people vote, and all of them have rejected gay marriage.) However, they cannot force that on God or His church — the Bible is clear.

Christian Conservative on February 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

There Goes The Neighborhood on February 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM

Sorry but you’re wrong as the government has already “defined marriage”. They need to wash their hands of the entire affair.
You and many others here profess that their religious beliefs trump anything that doesn’t agree with them.
Keep the government out of religion and religion out of government.

OTTO on February 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

petefrt on February 19, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Stinkin’ Red-baiter! McCarthyite! What do you mean a Marxist culture war?

Why Lenin and Stalin got along great with religion. They killed only about 10 or 20 million people over it. A small sacrifice. In Russia there were only 100 functioning churches in Russia by the time the Panzers rolled in. However, Stalin soon smelled the coffee and used the message of Christ to help motivate his people to sacrifice for the motherland (him) just after the time that the Germans rushed Moscow.

Secularists will tell you that religious beliefs separate and divide us and instill hate. So one blog online has the statement that the folks who push religion back are just promoting harmony, or something. And that is why Mao disliked religion. However, religion is felt by most historians to be an impediment to the mass murders and oppression one needs for a worker’s paradise.

In the marriage issue, the Dems are just looking to add to their base for votes.

It is more troubling that a member of this administration felt Mao to be a hero.

IlikedAUH2O on February 19, 2012 at 10:35 AM

As to the thread, the government needs to get out of the marriage business, and the military needs to be exempted from social experimentation. There will always be gays that will want to serve, and will do honorably- and without wanting a cookie for being special. But the military is its own animal, I wish people would remember that.

Anna on February 19, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Couldn’t agree more Anna.

smoothsailing on February 19, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Well said, Anna, and thanks for getting back to the topic of the thread. And smoothsailing, you beat me to it.

Now if we could only get those in high office in the federal government to agree with Anna’s statement.

Kevin K. on February 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM

The only way you get caught in a scam marriage is if you open your mouth to people that it is a scam marriage. The gay advocates here want to have everything two ways to Sunday and Sunday everyday. The government should not be able to prevent gays from marrying because they cannot tell you what makes a marriage a marriage, but if two guys or gals get married, the government is going to be able to tell if it is a marriage marriage or not. It is one or the other. Turning marriage definition over as they have leaves it impossible to determine if a marriage is real or not, what exactly is the requirement? Love? HAH HAH HAH. Nope, now it is nothing more than a civil contract that two people get the benefits that used to be reserved for two people on course to making a family got. The family aspect is gone. The government does not put cameras in your bedroom, they are not going to send around dick tasters to make sure they have been fudge packing and are not going to do mouth swabs to see if the girls have been doing their muff diving duties. There is only one risk in scamming the government as such, and that is opening your own mouth and saying so. Good luck catching them.

astonerii on February 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Congress makes rules and regs for the Armed Forces, so if this conflicts, the Admin can GTFO. If it’s ambiguous or unspecified then whatever.

I’m still peeved about the Navy ship-naming and various other things that are the provence of Congress.

John Kettlewell on February 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM

There Goes The Neighborhood on February 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM

Sorry but you’re wrong as the government has already “defined marriage”. They need to wash their hands of the entire affair.
You and many others here profess that their religious beliefs trump anything that doesn’t agree with them.
Keep the government out of religion and religion out of government.

OTTO on February 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Wherever did I get such a curious notion?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Maybe that was it.

Marriage is not a religious institution. There are however religious teachings and practices concerning marriage with First Amendment protections.

There Goes The Neighborhood on February 19, 2012 at 2:48 PM

AAAAANND the other shoe falls. I have always said the biggest problem with Gays in the military will be logistics. There is already a shortage of married military housing. Also support funds for the military have been cut. As with all Democrat social engineering. unintended consequences.

huskerthom on February 20, 2012 at 7:50 AM

The Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, no matter how much you may like it, Tina.

The benefits addressed by this decision have nothing to do with the religious meaning of marriage; they’re strictly practical matters.

As it should be. You think government should be legislating religious matters???

It’s sad to see how many people’s little worlds become threatened by people getting married.

Dante on February 20, 2012 at 8:36 AM

It’s sad to see how many people’s little worlds become threatened by people getting married.

Dante on February 20, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Would you be sad to see three people get married?

hawkdriver on February 20, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Would you be sad to see three people get married?

hawkdriver on February 20, 2012 at 8:45 AM

No. I wouldn’t have any emotional investment in it other than to say congratulations and wish them well. It’s none of my business, and it doesn’t effect or threaten my life or my marriage one single bit.

Dante on February 20, 2012 at 9:44 AM

No. I wouldn’t have any emotional investment in it other than to say congratulations and wish them well. It’s none of my business, and it doesn’t effect or threaten my life or my marriage one single bit.

Dante on February 20, 2012 at 9:44 AM

No boarders. Well, I will have to say, you’re consistent. There will be no norm and anything will go.

hawkdriver on February 20, 2012 at 9:54 AM

When I was in the Navy, I had a live in girlfriend that could not get any benefits from me… even though we were dating for years. Why is it that live in same sex people can get benefits and we could not?

I could have also truly scammed the system and just had a good friend change his mailing address to my house for some mail (to show proof of residency) and just claimed that we were gay, so that he could get free benefits…

DO THEY NOT THINK THESE THINGS THROUGH!!!???

MrStabone on February 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Also support funds for the military have been cut. As with all Democrat social engineering. unintended consequences.

huskerthom on February 20, 2012 at 7:50 AM

All support payments should be cut 100% and ended. There simply should not be 15 different pay rates for the same rank, doing the same job, based on nothing more than the number of mouths they have to feed.
Single male, no kids, lowest pay. Married male with two living parents living at home with 12 kids get a tremendously larger paycheck. Does the same work, and in fact, with all those people at home, is more likely have to take emergency leave.

Same job, same pay.

astonerii on February 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM

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