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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 42
SLDN to challenge DOMA
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SLDN to challenge DOMA

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

With 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' officially over, the largest group representing Gay troops is looking toward securing marriage equality.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) announced this week it plans to file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as it relates to Gay and Lesbian service members.

Since 1996, federal agencies and the military have been barred from recognizing the legal marriages of Gay couples because of DOMA, which defines marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis says his group will argue that DOMA violates Gay military couples' Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Last month, the Pentagon issued a memo stating that chaplains may officiate at weddings of Gay couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal. But DOMA makes Gay couples ineligible for the same benefits as their straight counterparts. Benefits such as housing allowances and health-care coverage are denied to the spouses of Gay service members.

'There is a huge disparity between Gay and straight service members who are providing equal service, taking equal risks, making equal sacrifices,' Sarvis said. 'This inequity should not and cannot stand.'

A bill that would repeal DOMA is expected to clear a Senate panel next month, but the issue is a non-starter in the Republican-controlled House.

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