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Legalizing LGBT Love in the Military

April 7, 2013
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Military LGBT activists can hardly wait for the Supreme Court to declare the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.  According to a Politico report titled "For LGBT Troops, DOMA Ruling a Pocketbook Issue," if the Supreme Court does not issue a sweeping ruling in their favor, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups will pressure Congress to pass legislation authorizing marriage benefits for same-sex couples. 

This suggests that if the courts or Congress abolish the DOMA, which defines marriage as the bond of one man and one woman, a new class of potentially "entitled" beneficiaries will expect to draw funds from shrinking Defense Department family support accounts.  The potential cost of expanding military medical (Tricare) expenditures, which have nearly tripled since 2001, could be enormous.

No one should be surprised.  In 2010, LGBT activists and the Obama Administration demanded that Congress repeal the 1993 law that was usually called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." CMR predicted that repeal would impose new policies that should have been called "LGBT Law" in the military, and that family status and benefits eventually would be extended to same-sex couples.  

Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed concern about the possible cost of same-sex family benefits during his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, but in the rush to repeal during the lame-duck session, there was no discussion of specifics.  Senators did not ask and Gates did not tell.    

Congress, unfortunately, trusted Defense Department officials and the Pentagon's own Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG), which kept promising that the Defense of Marriage Act would preclude same-sex marriage benefits.  Buried in its November 2010 report, however, the CRWG conceded that repeal could open the door for new family entitlements. 

Focusing more on political perceptions than costs, the CRWG admitted that if the Defense Department started to recognize and provide benefits to "committed" same-sex couples, it would be creating "a new inequity -- between unmarried, committed same-sex couples and unmarried, committed opposite-sex couples."  (See pp­. 145-146, CRWG Report)  

Full implications of this "new inequity" were disregarded, primarily because the Obama Administration kept promising to respect the DOMA law.  Still, some members of Congress remained nervous about the issue, so the repeal legislation included a clause mandating DOMA enforcement. 

The Center for Military Readiness warned that such a measure would have little effect, but short-sighted lawmakers voted for repeal anyway.  Having persuaded Congress to impose LGBT law on the military (without knowing what they were voting for), administration officials pocketed their ill-gotten gains and quickly moved to deliver on even more promises to the president's LGBT political base.   

Administration Duplicity on DOMA

As CMR noted at the time, Pentagon training documents were claiming that "[S]exual orientation would not be placed alongside race, color, religion, sex, and national origin as a class under the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program."  But a few weeks after the repeal bill passed, Attorney General Eric Holder stopped defending the DOMA in federal courts.  The Justice Department's February 23, 2011, statement contradicted the administration's previous position on the appropriate standard of review: "...[C]lassifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny."

In subsequent months the Defense Department refused to comply with mandates to provide information to Congress on how the new LGBT policies would be implemented, dismissing every question about marriage benefits with disingenuous promises to enforce the DOMA − a statute that the administration had targeted for destruction by federal courts.  Signaling bad faith, in May 2012 the Army allowed a same-sex marriage ceremony in a dedicated chapel at Fort Polk, Louisiana, a state that does not recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.

Panetta's Parting Shot: Domestic Partner Benefits  

The constant dissembling and dereliction of duty to defend the DOMA revved up the special interest campaign to extend spousal benefits to same-sex couples as a constitutional civil right.   The White House and Pentagon boosted the "Legalize Love" campaign during a series of June "LGBT Equality Month" events.  On February 10, just before President Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address, the administration dropped another shoe. 

Showing little concern about scarce resources and declining funds available for family support, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that some marriage benefits − not including federal housing subsidies and access to medical care − would be extended to same-sex couples who sign a "Declaration of Domestic Partnership."  In a news release, CMR explained serious problems with the administration's latest gift to the LGBT Left.    

The Pentagon has yet to provide any estimate of unanticipated costs for same-sex marriage benefits that officials previously had denied.  And Secretary Panetta's new domestic partner policy deliberately created the "new inequity" that the Pentagon's own Comprehensive Review Working Group had predicted and opposed in November 2010. 

If unmarried same-sex couples signing a "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" can get special rights, status, and benefits associated with marriage, how can the Defense Department not provide the same benefits to opposite-sex couples who are living together?  Now that definitions don't matter, Congress must deal with the consequences of "legalizing love" under LGBT law. 

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