Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin and her wife, Casey are serving as lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit which will be filed today challenging the constitutionality of the federal ban on gay marriage and federal policy that define a spouse as a person of the opposite sex. (DOMA)
The lawsuit will also challange provisions of federal code regarding spouses of gay couples beig denied access to benefits provided by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those benefits include military identification cards, access to bases, recreational programs, spousal support groups and burial rights at national cemeteries.
The McLaughlins, from Foxboro, Mass., married in December 2009 and have 10-month old twins. Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.
Although Shannon pays for the twins’ health care through her military benefits, Casey, a former high school history teacher who gave birth to the twins, pays about $700 a month for a separate health-care account and cannot be covered under the military health plan as Shannon’s spouse. And if Shannon is deployed, Casey would be barred from taking the twins to regular medical appointments at a nearby military base
“What Shannon and Casey are seeking is the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said Wednesday that officials were “engaged in a careful and deliberate review” of whether some benefits can be extended to same-sex partners.