The happy hoopla surrounding the lifting of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had a shadow side. Close inspection revealed a lot of partners and spouses of LGBTIQ military people who had been cloaked in secrecy and euphemism (“Meet my cousin”) for years. Now they, too, can come out. But they remain second-class citizens whose marriages don’t count because of the Defense of Marriage Act. They are not eligible for health care and other benefits routinely provided for dependents of military members. This injustice is a new and important front in the struggle for full human rights, one that has a unique religious twist that bears watching.
In late September, I attended a moving celebration hosted by the Military Partners and Families Coalition called “Beyond 61.” It was a celebration of the new lease on life that these folks experienced after the 60-day waiting period following the repeal of DADT. It took place at Arlington Cemetery, fittingly at the Women in Military Service Memorial, since women have a long history of unequal treatment in the military, as well.
Unaccustomed as I am to military anything (I continue to serve my country in the peace movement), I was impressed by the diversity among the participants and their singular commitment to justice. I was alarmed by the fact that, after decades of struggle, today’s young people are still subject to indignities due to their sexuality even when they enlist for military service. Given the current economic situation, their options for education and other kinds of work are limited. This only makes discrimination against the queer ones nastier. Continue reading “Progressive Religion to the Rescue By Mary E. Hunt”