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Lack of Marriage Recognition Harms Military Families and Undermines National Security

OutServe-SLDN

Joint Brief filed today to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

WASHINGTON, DC 4/11/2014 ? OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) today jointly filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Bostic v. Schaefer, decided by a federal district court in Virginia, arguing that the uneven patchwork of states providing marriage equality harms military families, undermines national security, complicates the payment of earned veterans benefits, and harms veterans. The brief, on which the law firm Chadbourne & Parke serves as counsel, urges the Court to end the discrimination caused by the lack of marriage equality by recognizing a constitutional right for people of the same gender to marry on the same terms as opposite-gender couples.

?Our gay and lesbian service members put their lives on the line for every state in our union, and it?s shameful that they and their families are treated as second-class by some of the governments of those states,? said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA. ?Our military families deserve better than to have to worry about where in America they will be stationed, and our veterans certainly deserve access to the benefits they earned serving our nation, no matter what state they live in.?

“Our families are no different from any other families in the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs and they deserve to be treated the same,? said Jeffrey Mueller, Co-Chairman of the OutServe-SLDN board.? ?The extra burden of marriage inequality is affecting military readiness and ultimately affects our national defense. ?Moving with the military is hard enough, but the added stress of moving to a state that will not recognize your marriage affects their ability to do their job and just is not right.? All military families should be treated the same no matter where they serve our great country.”

The brief asserts that: “While the strain of frequent moves impacts the recruitment and retention of opposite-sex married couples in the military, that impact is more profound on same-sex married couples in the military. No legally married couple would look fondly upon a move from a state where the couples’ marriage is recognized to a state where their marriage is annulled for state-law purposes…. (T)he lack of uniform marriage recognition laws from state to state for same-sex married couples poses a threat to veterans and their families…. Title 38, which confers veterans’ benefits, is inartfully drafted and Veterans Affairs (“VA”) is struggling to make sense of it. Consequently, veterans’ benefits have not yet been forthcoming to all married gay and lesbian service members…. The lack of marriage recognition is a strain on these military families, and an unnecessary distraction for service members who all too often find themselves in harm’s way while trying to protect this country. Ending this discrimination by requiring states to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry would protect these families, and best serve the needs of the modern military.”

This is the second amici brief filed jointly by OutServe-SLDN and AMPA this year.? As these cases reach the appellate stage, we anticipate filing similar briefs in each of the courts of appeal.

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ABOUT OUTSERVE-SLDN: OutServe-SLDN is the heir to the legacy of providing legal services to service members and veterans since 1993. From representing over 12,000 service members during the era of DADT, leading the fight to repeal DADT, through winning the federal lawsuit, McLaughlin v. Hagel, that provided benefits to same sex partners of military members, OutServe-SLDN has been on the frontlines for over 20 years. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN MILITARY PARTNER ASSOCIATION: The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)3 organization, is the nation?s premier resource and support network for LGBT military spouses and their families. Founded and led by same-gender military partners in 2009 as the Campaign for Military Partners, AMPA is committed to education, advocacy, and support for our ?modern military families.? For more information, visit www.militarypartners.org.