Enlisted Airman & Husband Join Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry Campaign
Contact: Angela Dallara (Freedom to Marry)
at (646) 430-3925 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or Zeke Stokes (SLDN)
at (202) 621-5406 or email@example.com
Enlisted Airman and Husband in the Spotlight as Freedom to Marry, SLDN Unveil New Video
(Washington, DC) – Freedom to Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today released a new online video featuring Airman First Class (A1C) Daniel P. Henderson and his husband, Jerret, who speak about the harms done to them and other military families by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“As a military family, DOMA has very strict and severe implications for us. It seems like every day we are encountering new ways in which we are discriminated against,” Jerret Henderson says in the video, as the two explain the impact of the couple’s inability to access health care for Jerret, who is suffering from ongoing health complications as the result of an accident.
“He wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, and there’s nothing I can do except ice it down,” A1C Henderson says of Jerret’s ankle.
A1C Henderson joined the U.S. Air Force in November of 2010 and is currently stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he is a member of the 90th Security Forces Group, providing continuous security for the 90th Missile Wing’s most vital assets. The mission of the 90th SFG includes the protection of F. E. Warren AFB, 15 Missile Alert Facilities and 150 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles on constant 24-hour alert throughout a 9,600 square-mile area spanning three states. The 90th SFG also sustains a combat-ready force deployable worldwide in support of wartime and peacetime tasks. The two were married in Iowa and plan to start the adoption process within the next few years to become parents.
“The Hendersons underscore the problems created for military families when the military is forced to administer two tiers of benefits for service members and their families - one for straight families, and another - indeed a second-class one - for gay and lesbian families. The Hendersons render the same service, take the same risks, and make the same sacrifices as their straight, married counterparts. They should not be treated differently,” said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
The Hendersons are also plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by SLDN in October 2011 challenging DOMA and three other federal statutes that prevent the military from providing equal recognition and support to same-sex military spouses.
"Every day, gay and lesbian service members like Daniel Henderson risk their lives to ensure the safety of Americans back home, even while the government treats their marriage as second-class and denies them thousands of federal protections," said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry. "It is time to honor all military families and give them the same recognition, respect, and support by repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act once and for all."
Because of the ‘gay exception’ created by DOMA, America’s legally married gay and lesbian couples are denied more than 1,100 federal responsibilities and protections, including access to military insurance programs, Social Security survivors benefits, equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws, and the opportunity to take leave to care for a spouse.
Freedom to Marry's federal program works to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and make the case for marriage to government officials, opinion-leaders, and political operatives in Washington, DC. Freedom To Marry jointly leads the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a diverse group of nearly 75 organizations working together to repeal DOMA. Since the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, the number of cosponsors has increased from 18 to 32 in the Senate, including every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and from 108 to 151 in the House of Representatives.
For more information on Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, visit www.freedomtomarry.org/serve.
ABOUT FREEDOM TO MARRY: Freedom To Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, 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. 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. Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 11,500 requests for assistance. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.