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LGBT Rights in the Military

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LGBT rights in the military

As the Supreme Court prepares to consider whether states must license and recognize same-sex marriage, the U.S. military takes substantial steps in changing LGBT rights in the military. Due partly to prior Supreme Court decisions, including the Windsor case that struck down parts of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) in 2011, as well as the decision to eliminate the “don’t ask/don’t tell” (DADT) policy of the ’90s, the Pentagon has made dramatic progress toward equality in the military.

Pentagon Policy Changes in Record Time

Gay military members had served in virtual silence for decades as leaders struggled with acceptable policies to address the reality of LGBT individuals in the military. Many soldiers and their loved ones have now felt the joy of stepping out of second-class citizen status, now that relationships and family members no longer have to hide under the dubious protection of DADT and other prejudicial restrictions on gays in the military.

In what some have called record time considering the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, substantive policy changes are in place to grant full rights to family members of gay service members, who are now:

-Issued a military family ID card, just like all other service families

-Permitted to live on military installations in family housing

-Recognized as spouses at change of command ceremonies

-Eligible for family medical care at military facilities

-Granted the full range of benefits for family members of service members

 

Despite notable progress, there is more that must be done in order to eradicate remaining areas of second-class citizen status. Under Status of Force Agreements (SOFA), limitations persist on same-sex families serving in some countries, which limits service members access to some competitive assignments. Not everyone is happy with the changes in the Pentagon’s policy. Some military chaplains are battling the changes from within, working to deny religious services to LGBT military members under the guise of “religious liberty.” Despite all the progress, transgender men and women in the military must serve in silence, unaffected by progress in other areas.

Where Will Evangelicals Go?

Some Evangelical Christians are worried by the change in society’s attitude toward LGBT couples legal right to marry.  Others see things different, noting that evangelicals are, by definition, focused on statements from the Bible and not legal definitions of relationships such as marriage. Some point out that their scriptures are clear on what a marriage is to them, regardless of changing legal or cultural definitions that expand marriage rights to LGBT couples.

Some voices from Christian conservatives predict that reaction from evangelicals will depend, in part, on how “gracious or vindictive the LGBT community is” in accepting the changes that flow from Supreme Court decisions and other laws recognizing gay marriages. Some conservative social pundits predict less of a “push-back” from the religious right if the gays and their allies tend toward a “live-and-let-live attitude” toward religious conservatives rather than an effort to “stamp out dissent” in the culture. For most LGBT individuals, a “live-and-let-live” attitude toward marriage relationship is precisely what they have been seeking: equality to marry whom they choose.

Studies indicate that in the past decade, support for same-sex marriage has more than doubled among white evangelicals, and rose among Catholics by more than 22 percent. As education and awareness of the issues regarding same-sex marriage become more widespread in the country, many people are beginning to realize that they are not threatened by extending marriage to all who desire it.

The national spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, Brandon Robertson, notes, “Christians are increasingly saying that they need to stand up for LGBT equality no matter what they believe theologically, and they are doing this not because they are American, but because they are followers of Christ.” Followers of all religions can develop an increased understanding of the social value of extending full marriage equality to all, because it is based upon good spiritual values of compassion and love.

One Comment

  1. Juampi says:

    Kenny We used a law firm in Italy to represent us as this type of prmiet is fairly new and has not been done too many times. Many states within Italy might not even be familiar with it, however it is a law now in effect since October 26, 2012. We obtained ours at the Questura (immigration police station) in Trento. It has also been successfully approved in Milan and a few other areas. Our attorney is with Mazzeschi Law Firm. They were a referal to me by Immigration Equality but by coincidence, they were also the immigration law firm that my employer was using to get me transferred here. You can start with them for extended advice. My attorney there was Giuditta Petrini and her email address is If you don’t speak Italian, Ms. Petrini speaks excellent English. I highly recommend them. The fee’s for our case ran about 1,100 euro. In order to qualify for the residency prmiet, you must be legally married in a country that prmiets same-sex marriages or in one of the 9 states plus Washington DC inside the U.S. There are a few other requirements that they can go over with you but the one thing that I was most pleased with was the fact that I did not have to apply for any type of Visa at a Italian Consulate inside the U.S. I entered Italy with just my U.S. passport and brought all of my documents with me. Once you have applied, and even before it’s been approved, you would be given a receipt that becomes your temporary prmiet of stay until a decision is rendered on your application. They told me to expect a 30 to 60 day wait for a decision but surprisingly it was approved in only 8 days. If you were married in the U.S., you marriage certificate would have to be translated and Apostiled from English to Italian by an approved translator at an Italian Consulate in the U.S. The certificates would then be taken to that consulate for the translation to be validated. There are other form that your partner would have to submit here in Italy as well but it’s a relatively simple process.

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