BY MICHAEL BIESECKER AND DAVID CRARY, ASSOCIATED PRESS
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sgt. Karen Alexander fought for her country in Iraq, but back home she often feels the U.S. Army is fighting against her.
Married to another female soldier with a 4-year-old son, Alexander is denied the same housing allowance and other family-friendly benefits she would be entitled to if married to a man. As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, she's still single.
"I'm married to my best friend, who just happens to be of the same sex as me," said Alexander, 29, who is stationed at Fort Bragg. "We fight for everyone else's rights, but we're treated as second-class citizens."
Nearly a year and half after President Obama and Congress ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," same-sex couples are faced with daily reminders of the conflict inherent in serving openly as gays and lesbians under a government that still refuses to acknowledge their relationships.
Pentagon officials say they are bound by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of DOMA in June, but advocacy groups say there are numerous steps the Pentagon could take now to treat struggling same-sex military couples more fairly.