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SLDN Files Motion for Summary Judgment In DOMA Legal Challenge

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today filed a motion for summary judgment in the case McLaughlin v. U.S., the legal challenge filed in October by SLDN and co-counsel Chadbourne & Parke on behalf of current and former service members seeking equal recognition, benefits and family support for equal sacrifice and service in the U.S. Armed Forces. The plaintiffs, each legally married, want the armed services to recognize their families and seek the same family support and benefits for their same-sex spouses that the services and Department of Veterans Affairs provide to opposite-sex spouses.

The case, filed in the District of Massachusetts, challenges the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as provisions in Title 10, Title 32, and Title 38 of U.S. Code, which preclude the military from providing same-sex married couples with the same benefits and family support as their straight, married peers.

Today’s filing asserts that there are no disputes as to the material facts in this case and asks the judge to make a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs as a matter of law.

“The facts in this case are clear. All of these service members are legally married and entitled to equal benefits, yet are prevented from receiving them due to the Defense of Marriage Act. Given that none of these facts is in dispute, the only question is, ‘what does the law require?’” said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “That question can be answered right now, and today, we are urging the judge in this case to make that answer in favor of these plaintiffs.”

The motion filed today is based on the four legal theories outlined in the complaint filed last month: that the denial of benefits violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, that these statutes violate principles of federalism, that they impose unconstitutional conditions on the exercise of the plaintiffs' right to marry under State law, and that they are an unconstitutional bill of attainder.

“This case is about justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families in our armed forces rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices, and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad,” said Sarvis. “These couples are in long term, committed, and legally recognized marriages, and the military should not be forced to turn its back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

To view the full filing, click here

To view additional background on the case, click here


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 11,000 requests for assistance. 

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: 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.  


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