(Washington, DC) – Freedom To Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today released a new online video featuring Army Captain Stephen Hill and his husband, Joshua Snyder, spotlighting the inequalities forced upon gay and lesbian service members by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Hill - who drew national support when he was booed during a Republican presidential debate after asking a question via video regarding repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) - recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East.
"Steve's deployment brought home to us the stark realities that gay and lesbian families face because of the Defense of Marriage Act. If something happened to me, Steve would not have been able to take emergency leave, because the military cannot recognize our relationship. If something terrible happened to him, I would not be considered the next-of-kin. Service members and their families making the kind of sacrifices that are required to serve this country shouldn't be treated as second-class citizens and their marriages shouldn’t be treated as second-class marriages,” said Snyder.
Hill and Snyder are also plaintiffs in landmark litigation filed in October 2011 by SLDN on behalf of eight married gay and lesbian service members and veterans challenging DOMA and other federal statutes that are being used to prevent the military from providing the same protections and support to all families. For more information on the case, click here.
"This lawsuit is about one thing, plain and simple. It's about equal recognition, respect, and support for all service members and their families who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms," said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
The video released today is the latest piece of the new Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry national campaign highlighting the stories of military families harmed by DOMA. In addition, SLDN and Freedom to Marry have launched a petition calling on Congress to end marriage discrimination against service members and veterans. The petition builds support for repealing so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and passing the Respect for Marriage Act.
“Gay and lesbian service members put their lives on the line every day to ensure the safety of Americans back home, even while the federal government continues to deny their marriages respect and their families the protections marriage brings,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom To Marry. “It is time to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and do right by all American families, including those serving our country.”
Because of the ‘gay exception’ created by DOMA, America’s legally married gay and lesbian couples are denied more than 1,100 federal responsibilities and protections, including access to military insurance programs, Social Security survivors benefits, equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws, and the opportunity to take leave to care for a spouse.
Freedom To Marry's federal program works to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and make the case for marriage to government officials, opinion-leaders, and political operatives in Washington, DC. Freedom To Marry jointly leads the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a diverse group of nearly 75 organizations working together to repeal DOMA. Since the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, the number of cosponsors has increased from 18 to 32 in the Senate, including every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and from 108 to 147 in the House of Representatives.
For more information on Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, visit www.freedomtomarry.org/serve.
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Booed soldier Army Capt. Stephen Hill joins national campaign for marriage equality
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