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OutServe Magazine | February 19, 2015

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Supreme Court rules 1996 law discriminatory and unconstitutional

Washington, DC – In a 5 to 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court today ruled in the case U.S. v. Windsor that part of the so­called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which became law in 1996, is unconstitutional because it is a deprivation of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Today’s ruling strikes down Section 3 of the law which allowed the federal government to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman.

“Today, we congratulate plaintiff Edie Windsor, her incredible legal team, and all those who have stood up for the freedom to marry in America. This victory is especially sweet for our nation’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, who can now not only serve openly, but can serve knowing that their loving, committed, and legal marriages will be recognized by the military they serve and the nation they protect,” said Army veteran and OutServe­SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.

Currently twelve states and the District of Columbia permit same­gender marriages. Robinson said today’s victory adds to the rapidly growing momentum for marriage in the U.S.

“This victory energizes our work moving forward and lays a new, strong foundation for ensuring marriage for all loving and committed couples in our country across all fifty states,” said Robinson.

Robinson thanked the plaintiffs in OutServe­SLDN’s landmark litigation, McLaughlin v. Panetta, which was filed in October 2011 on behalf of eight married gay and lesbian military couples seeking equal recognition, support, and benefits, for their part in bringing the stories of gay and lesbian military families to the fore. Despite today’s ruling, the McLaughlin case will move forward because the case challenges the constitutionality of other statutes in addition to DOMA.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the McLaughlin plaintiffs today, including the late Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan and her family, all of whom courageously stepped forward to do something very difficult: to file suit against their employer, the Department of Defense, as well the Department of Veterans Affairs. In doing so, they stood up not only for their own families, but for countless LGBT military families they will never know. Their stories have been, and will continue to be, a game­changer as the marriage fight marches forward,” said Robinson.

Robinson called on the Pentagon to act immediately and unequivocally to implement today’s ruling.“Secretary Hagel has already demonstrated his commitment to LGBT military families, just as he promised he would during his confirmation. Today the Court cleared the way for him to take the next step. We expect Secretary Hagel to act so that all families affected by today’s ruling gain access to full recognition, benefits, and support no later than sixty days from today. OutServe­SLDN will be working with the Pentagon and the VA to ensure that the greatest number of federal protections, responsibilities and programs are available to all military couples as soon as possible,” said Robinson.

ABOUT OUTSERVE­-SLDN: OutServe­-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6500 members around the world. It works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a non­partisan, non­profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. OS­-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve­