Monday, January 21, 2013

Army denies same-sex couple right to attend retreat; many problems because of DOMA

The New York Times has a story by Rachel L. Swarns, Sunday January 20, 2013, “Military rules leave gay spouses in the cold”, link (website url) here.

Despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, same-sex military couples, legally married in some states (which now can include Maryland) are denied most spousal benefits by military rules, which the government says are in some part predicated on the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, now under constitutional challenge.  The Marine Corps has ironically been a little more progressive than the other services.  (Once, on an Army Basic bivouac in 1968, I said, “The Marines are tougher than the Army!)
Same-sex military couples cannot get discounted housing or other consumer benefits.

But the most galling part of the story concerned a military family retreat at Fort Bragg, NC (I think that meant only one member of a couple was in the Army).  A lesbian was told to leave a retreat my a military chaplain after she was told that her presence made the heterosexuals, pondering how to keep the intimacies of their marriages going, “comfortable” and distracted.

That hits the hammer of the “old chestnut” debates on both the “gays in the military” and gay marriage debates – that others are distracted and lose cohesion and focus.  It’s particularly disturbing now in the marriage issue because it insinuates that straight couples may not be able to maintain long-term conjugal intimacy, when under stress, if they believe that same-sex couples can do the same.

This problem ought to change, given the Commander-in-Chief's bold inaugural speech today. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of barracks at Fort bragg, link. 

I drove through Fort Bragg in the fall of 1992, and had the pleasure of witnessing an auto accident.  

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