SLDN to Boehner: You Are Hurting Military Families
House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group moves to intervene in SLDN case challenging DOMA, other federal statutes
(Washington, D.C.) Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today fired back at Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and his Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) for their request to intervene in McLaughlin v. U.S., the landmark federal court case filed in October 2011 by eight married gay and lesbian service members and veterans, who are represented by SLDN and Chadbourne & Parke. The case challenges the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and three other federal statutes - Titles 10, 32, and 38 - that preclude the military from providing equal recognition, support, and benefits for all military families. The Department of Justice announced its intention related to the case in a letter sent to Boehner on February 17, 2012, triggering the BLAG to make known its position.
"Speaker Boehner's request to defend this case in the wake of the ongoing harm done to military families by these discriminatory laws is reprehensible and callous. The Speaker has turned a deaf ear to the urgent pleas of CW2 Charlie Morgan and countless families like hers, who are living with the day-to-day realities of a military that has been forced to create two classes of service members," said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
In February, Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Morgan, a member of the New Hampshire National Guard and a plaintiff in McLaughlin v. U.S. - who also is battling incurable stage IV breast cancer - traveled to Washington, D.C. to tell her story on Capitol Hill and ask Boehner not to intervene in the case.
"Should I not survive this bout with cancer, my wife Karen will not receive any survivor's benefits, social security benefits or health insurance coverage. Karen is a stay-at-home mom, taking care of our four-year old daughter while I undergo chemotherapy. Now, after fighting for my country in Iraq and fighting for my life with this illness, I am forced to fight the Speaker of the House in order to make sure that my family is cared for when I am gone. It's shameful," Morgan said today.
"Speaker Boehner's politically motivated ongoing defense of these unjust laws is hurting military families. It's time to repeal DOMA and revise these antiquated laws that are preventing all military families from being treated with fairness and equality. There cannot be two classes of service members," said Sarvis.
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.
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.