What the Gay Rights Supreme Court Decision Means for MilFams


Late last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize gay marriage. While many states already did so, 13 did not.

You may be wondering why whether or not a state recognizes a same-sex marriage matters to legally married same-sex military families if they can receive federal military benefits. It's simple: life in a non-equality state was not easy or fun for same-sex military families. Why? Because stepping foot of base in a place that did not recognize gay marriage could get dicey in little ways that add up to big problems.

Married tax status if the military spouse held a job, registering children for off base school and the ability to make medical decisions for your same-sex spouse were all hazards according to our friends at the American Military Partner Association. And since those 13 non-equality states host a total of 40 active duty military bases, the negative impact on same-sex military families was potentially huge.

Pvt. Etan S. Patterson, 25, from Utica, N.Y., and his spouse, Ryan, were married Sept. 3, 2013. Here's what the new Supreme Court decision means for them.

And the problem didn't stop there. If living in a non-equality state gay military families could not receive full backing on VA home loans. And once they left the service, they also couldn't access other VA spouse benefits if they did not live in a state that recognized their marriage. Burial benefits, disability compensation and death pensions were also denied. Those aren't little things, guys. Death pension? That's a big thing.

The impact of the Supreme Court's decision on the life of gay military families is really simple -- so simple, in fact, that I wish everything was this easy to explain: gay marriage is now recognized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and all of those non-equality state problems are gone. The end.

Of course, the Supreme Court can't abolish some discrimination or force Americans to be nice to each other. And it can't force us to treat each other with the same courtesy we expect to receive ourselves. That means gay military members do still have an uphill battle to fight when it comes to dealing with Big Jerks (I'm looking at you comment section). But maybe, just maybe, forcing all states to legalize it is a step towards treating everyone fairly under the law, regardless of their lifestyle choice of whether or not to marry.


Photo courtesy U.S. Army.

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