A group of gay and lesbian service members and veterans are planning to file a lawsuit Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.
The Washington Post reports that the group will argue that DOMA prevents spouses of gay and lesbian service members from receiving the same benefits heterosexual military couples are granted, including things like military ID cards, access to bases and burial rights at national cemeteries.
The lawsuit comes a little more than a month after the Pentagon officially brought an end to its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
According to the report, the lead plaintiff in the case will be Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, along with her wife, Casey McLaughlin, who together have 10-month-old twins.
Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and one of the organizers of the suit, told the Post that the couple is seeking “the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted."
Sarvis also mentioned that some service members initially involved in the suit have pulled out for fear of retribution by the military. The suit is expected to include five additional troops as plaintiffs, as well as two veterans.
There are a number of legal challenges to DOMA in the court system at the moment. The Obama administration has said that it will no longer defend the act in the face of the wave of legal challenges, but House Republicans have since taken up the task of defending the law.
The GOP-led House argued in a filing last week that DOMA is not subject to the level of court scrutiny its challengers claim it is. The filing, as quoted by the Associated Press, also claims that a “spate of recent news stories only confirms the conclusion that homosexuals are far from politically powerless," citing the lifting of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” and recent poll numbers indicating American support for gay and lesbian service members.
The filing continues: "Accordingly, gays and lesbians cannot be labeled `politically powerless' without draining that phrase of all meaning." The motion is in response to a lawsuit filed by a lesbian federal employee that has received support from the Obama administration.