Gay and lesbian service members sue US

Last Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 00:52

Boston: A group of married gay current and
former military personnel sued the US government on day,
seeking equal recognition, benefits and the same support as
married heterosexual couples who serve in the military.

The lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston says the
government`s Defense of Marriage Act violates their
constitutional rights and asks the military to recognise their
legal marriages.

"This case is about one thing, plain and simple," said
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network, which filed the suit. "It`s 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."

The lawsuit names as defendants Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta, US Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K Shinseki.

Under current law, the Pentagon is required to ignore
same-sex marriages.

The Pentagon will evaluate the complaint and consult with
the Justice Department, while at the same time continuing to
follow the law, a spokesman said in a statement.

The spokesman, Capt John Kirby, pointed out that service
members can already designate some benefits to people of their
choosing regardless of sexual orientation, but other benefits
are restricted by law.

"In connection with `Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell` repeal, the
Defense Department is engaged in a careful and deliberate
review of the possibility of extending eligibility for
benefits, when legally permitted, to other individuals
including same-sex partners," the statement said.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Maj Shannon McLaughlin,
a judge advocate general in the Massachusetts National Guard.
Another plaintiff is Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of
the New Hampshire National Guard.

Current policies cause "undue financial and emotional
hardship," she said.

Morgan said she has cancer and is worried that her spouse
and their daughter would be unable to receive survivor`s
benefits. "We are only asking for equitable treatment as a
recognized family," she said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 00:52
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