New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan will be allowed to bring her same-sex partner to a military Yellow Ribbon event, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.
Morgan recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait and publicly came out about her homosexuality after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” took effect this September. Despite the repeal, Morgan was initially told that she could not bring her partner of 11 years to a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event.
The event is a way to reconnect and support families after loved ones come home from deployment.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen came to Morgan’s defense and wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, urging him to allow same-sex couples to enjoy all the benefits that heterosexual couples do within the military.
This week, Shaheen and Morgan received a positive response from the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesperson, Eileen Lainez, told The Advocate that same-sex partners would be permitted to attend.
"According to applicable law and DOD policy, a member of the uniformed services who is eligible to attend a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event may designate one or more people of his/her choosing to attend.”
“This is terrific news for Charlie Morgan and her family,” said Shaheen in a press release. “But this is just one small part of a much larger problem. We have a fundamental inequity in our policy, which has created two classes of soldiers. It isn’t fair and it has to end.”
However, Daniel Blomberg of the litigation council at Alliance Defense Fund, told The Christian Post that repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and changing the fundamental definition of marriage will have serious consequences.
"Different things should not be treated as the same. Gay marriage is not recognized by federal law and therefore does not mandate the same treatment as a heterosexual marriage that is. The repeal of DOMA is unlikely. Most states, when given the opportunity to do so, have written into their constitutions the definition of a marriage being between one man and one woman. Those state measures passed without any problems, most had 62 percent in favor. The majority of Americans recognize the importance of maintaining marriage as between a man and a woman."
Blomberg went on to say that in military events that are open to everyone, same-sex couples should be allowed to attend. However, those that are closed only to married couples have the right to restrict the attendance of same-sex partners.
The initial decision to ban same-sex couples from attending the Yellow Ribbon event was due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act which does not extend military benefits to homosexual couples. Shaheen said that in order for true equality to be obtained, DOMA must be repealed. She is a co-sponsor of a bill that would repeal DOMA if passed. The bill, titled Respect for Marriage Act, would allow married same-sex couples to get equal treatment under federal law as married heterosexual couples.
“Ultimately, this conflict in our military policy is not sustainable,” Shaheen said in a statement. “We cannot ask the members of our military to live under different standards depending on whether they are gay or straight. I urge the military to do all it can under the law to promote equality in their regulations, and I urge Congress to join me in the fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Morgan told the Portsmouth Herald, “My unit wants to meet my family, but it's out of their hands.”
Dr. Michael Brown, author of the book A Queer Thing Happened to America, countered by telling The Christian Post that the servicemen and women are there to serve the military; the military is not there to serve them.
"The military has no right to tamper with that (DOMA). If they do it will further deteriorate the family unit in America and work against the well-being of the military."