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Robinson Calls on Navy to Recognize Virginia Military Family

For immediate release:
Friday, March 22, 2013

Contact: Zeke Stokes at
202-621-5406 or zeke@outserve-sldn.org

Robinson calls on Navy to Honor Service of Military Family in Virginia Denied Recognition
DOMA must go, says OutServe-SLDN leader

(WASHINGTON, DC) Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson today called on the Department of Navy to intervene in the case of a same-sex military spouse denied appropriate honor and recognition at the retirement ceremony of her wife due to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As first reported on WKTR television in Norfolk, VA, Navy SH1 Melissa Smith is retiring next month and has requested that her legal spouse, T.J. Jenkins, receive a customary Certificate of Appreciation and other appropriate honors from the Commanding Officer. The Commander has denied that request, citing DOMA, though other same-sex military families in the Navy have been recognized in that way – even as late as six weeks ago.

“There is an inconsistency here that the Navy must address immediately for this family, but the real enemy is the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. As long as DOMA is on the books, commanders will be forced to discriminate, despite the fact that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense have made it clear that America’s LGBT service members and their families deserve to be treated fairly. Our expectation is that SH1 Smith’s commander – and every commander of American troops – will do everything possible under the law to honor the service and sacrifice of LGBT military families, and OutServe-SLDN is working directly with the Department of the Navy to ensure that happens here,” said Robinson.

“To be a second class citizen is just like me sitting in the back of the bus,” Jenkins told WKTR-TV. “It was like a slap in the face.”

“This is yet another example of just how far-reaching – and how petty – this law can be. The Supreme Court must stand with this family – and with all military families – to ensure they are treated equally,” said Robinson.

This incident comes just days before the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases involving the freedom to marry, one specifically related to the constitutionality of DOMA. Robinson will speak at a rally on Tuesday calling on the Court to strike down the discriminatory law.

About OutServe-SLDN: OutServe-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6000 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 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. 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-sldn.org.

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