In Congress

Military Spouses Equal Treatment (MSET) Act of 2012

In three sections of the United States Code, Title 10 (Armed Services), Title 32 (National Guard), and Title 38 (Veterans) there are four controlling definitions of "spouse" that regardless of DOMA, bar legally married gay and lesbian service members and their families from being treated the same when it comes to recognition, benefits, and family support. In Titles 10 and 32 “spouse” is defined as “husband or wife, as the case may be.”  As to veterans, Title 38 reads: “the term 'spouse' means a person of the opposite sex who is a wife or husband" and "the term 'surviving spouse' means … a person of the opposite sex who was the spouse of a veteran at the time of the veteran's death…"

On June 27, Rep. Adam Smith, Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, introduced HR 6046, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET). The goal of the legislation is to ensure that the spouses and families of gay and lesbian service members receive the same support and benefits as the families of their straight comrades by changing the above definitions of "spouse".

In practical terms, passage of this Bill would provide seventy-seven (77) benefits and support programs to the same-gender spouses of service members. Some of these benefits are not well known - like language training for military spouses or the continuation of payments if the military spouse is missing in action.  But others are major parts of the military family compensation package. Just to name a few, these include:

  • TriCare coverage for same-gender spouses
  • Increased housing allowances to provide for a family
  • Survivor benefits for the spouse if a service member passes away on active duty
  • For a full list of what the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would provide, click here.

    In short, the bill would carve out these Titles of the Code from DOMA and allow the military to extend these benefits to all spouses - gay or straight - equally. To urge your member of Congress to cosponsor the MSET bill, please go here to our Take Action Page.

    June 27, 2012
    Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2012 introduced in House by Rep. Adam Smith (Thomas)

    June 28, 2012
    SLDN Praises Bill to Extend Benefits and Support to All Military Spouses

    July 7, 2012
    What You Need to Know About MSET

    More on HR 6046 (112th Congress)

    Respect for Marriage Act (RMA)

    SLDN supports the Respect for Marriage Act, currently gaining sponsors on Capitol Hill, that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At this stage, the bill has passed the Senate Judiciary and is awaiting further action.

    More on HR 1116 (112th Congress)

    More on S 598 (112th Congress)

    November 10, 2011
    SLDN Responds to Passage of Respect for Marriage Act in Senate Judiciary

    Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act

    Currently the House and Senate are debating this year's National Defense Authorization Act. Check back here for updates as the bills make their way through Congress.  

    May 9, 2012
    The House Armed Services Committee adopted two harmful amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. The first amendment by Rep. Akin (R-MO) would give so-called "conscience protections" to chaplains and service members who do not wish to minister and work with gay and lesbian service members. A threat to military readiness and unit cohesion, this amendment would allow service members to actively harass their fellow comrades for their perceived or actual sexual orientation. It would allow chaplains to discriminate against service members by religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other religious belief simply by arguing that ministering to them would be contrary to their "conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs."

    The second amendment by Rep. Palazzo (R-MS) would prohibit the use of Department of Defense property for same-gender marriage ceremonies. More here.

    May 19, 2012
    The House of Representatives passed HR 4310 with the harmful language attached by a vote of 299-120.

    More on HR 4310 (112th Congress)

    June 4, 2012
    The Senate Armed Services Committee reported out their version of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill contains no harmful provisions pertaining to LGBT military service. It currently awaits action by the full Senate. 

    More on S 3254 (112th Congress)

    What's next?
    Once the Senate votes on S 3254, the two chambers, the House and the Senate will appoint conferees to a conference committee that will work together to reconcile the differences found in the two bills. It is in conference, that we will work with conferees to drop the two harmful provisions contained in HR 4310.

    Have a question about what's happening in Congress on the issue of LGBT military equality? Contact SLDN by clicking here.


    Ayes 33, noes 27. 

    Dems that voted AYE: Mike McIntyre- NC    Rs that voted NO: Todd Platts- PA, Chris Gibson- NY