Weekly News Roll Up May 28 – June 1

by Shaun Knittel

Nearly one year after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues to cause trouble for LGB service members and their families. This week, another piece of DOMA was chipped away at when the law was, again, ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Courts. In other news, a gay ex-Marine announced his intention of becoming the second openly gay man in the Georgia House of Representatives. Here’s a look at some of the news items that had an impact on the lives of LGBT service members, veterans, and their supporters.


A Boston appeals court ruled that the government cannot deny tax, Social Security and other federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their home states, May 31. The ruling struck down a major part DOMA, a law adopted in 1996 that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples. The 3-0 decision by the federal appeals court greatly increased the odds of a Supreme Court showdown on the subject. The Boston-based judges of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that marriage is a matter of state law and as such, they saw no valid justification for the federal government to penalize legally married same-sex couples by denying them the same benefits available to all other married couples. White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama agreed with the court’s decision. “There’s no question that this decision is in concert with the president’s views,” Carney said.


William Phelps, a gay former Marine, qualified on Thursday to take on three-term incumbent Rep. Margaret Kaiser of the Georgia House of Representatives. Phelps and Kaiser are both Democrats so the July 31 primary will decide the race. If Phelps wins, he will become the second openly gay man in the Georgia House and its first Gay veteran. Phelps is one of at least seven LGBT candidates running for the state House – four are incumbents; three are challengers. Phelps says that beyond advocating for veterans’ rights and issues related to the economy, transportation and education, he would also lobby for a several LGBT issues: a hate crime law, a workplace protections bill for gay state employees that was introduced in 2011, bully-free schools and adoptions by same-sex couples. “I would bring a different type of look and feel to LGBT issues at the House. I am a veteran and I served our country for eight years in the Marines. The key thing is really getting down to the roots of why legislators won’t support gay bills,” Phelps says.

About Shaun Knittel

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist living in Seattle, WA. He spent 10 years working in U.S. Navy public affairs and is a veteran of the Iraq war and war on terror. His work as a writer, editor, and photographer has appeared in noiZe Magazine, OutMilitary.com Blog, EDGE Media Network, Rising Republic Magazine, Star & Stripes, and more. Knittel currently serves as the Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News, Seattle's LGBT News & Entertainment weekly, and as the Associate Blog Editor at OutServe Blog.

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