Four States Continue to Discriminate Against Married Same-Sex Service Members

October 3, 2013 12:00 am

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October 3, 2013

ACLU-MS Supports Congressional Efforts Urging the Department Of Defense Issue Additional Guidance

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Jackson, Miss – After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the federal government to recognize legal marriages between same-sex couples, the Department of Defense announced that it would recognize all marriages that are legal in the place where the ceremony took place, regardless of the couples’ state of residence. On September 3, 2013, married lesbian and gay members of our Armed Forces started applying for benefits for their families.

Mississippi, along with three other states (Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana), has delivered a slap in the face to legally married lesbian and gay service members by refusing to permit them to apply for federally mandated benefits for their families in State facilities. “Mississippi continues to treat lesbian and gay residents as second class citizens,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Representative Adam Smith, Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Hagel on September 30, 2013. The letter urges Secretary Hagel “… to issue further guidance on this matter, reaffirming that all married military couples must be treated equally, and clarifying that state National Guards, because they are funded in large part by federal tax dollars, cannot choose to ignore this order by denying some lawfully married military couples equal access to the federal benefits to which they are entitled.”

“Federal law requires that all legally married service members be permitted to apply for benefits for their families,” said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi. “Like all married members of our Armed Forces, lesbian and gay U.S. citizens serving their country want to make sure their families are provided for.”

“DOD should act quickly,” continued Atwood. “Mississippi should be honoring the sacrifices our service members and their families make to protect the American value of equality for all, not throwing up roadblocks to access to services for some military families.”

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