Karen Ocamb

Gay Marine & Fiance on the Impact of DOMA

Filed By Karen Ocamb | April 11, 2013 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Ben Schock, Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Marine Corps, Matthew Phelps

marine-proposes.jpgRemember that sweet romantic moment during the Christmas holidays last year when U.S. Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps proposed to his love Ben Schock during a tour of the White House? Well, the couple plans on marrying next month in Seattle, Washington before Phelps is transferred to Japan for a two year stint. But even though they will be legally married, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits Schock from enjoying base privileges so, unless he can get a Visa, he must leave Japan every 90 days, only to have to go through the process of re-entering again. And they must do this all at their own expense, unlike an opposite-sex couple who automatically gets housing, a moving allowance and any other assistance the military can provide. To the military, Schock doesn't exist.

On Wednesday, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released a video of the couple as part of their joint "Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry" campaign in which they talk about the joyous proposal and what they expect to face next.

"There seems to be a contradiction between serving my country and my country not fully supporting my relationship with Ben," Phelps says. "Every day, I'm reminded that my marriage to Ben is different from everybody else's marriage, and it's just not right." ??

But perhaps most chilling is this: "While [his heterosexual colleagues are] worried about whether or not the place they're moving to will accept the breed of dog that they've got, I'm waiting on a decision from the Supreme Court to see if my husband is going to be allowed to move with me."

Video and more after the break.

Here's reaction in a press release from Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN:

"As Captain Phelps prepares to put his life on the line every day for his country, his government has yet to ensure that his marriage will be given the same respect and dignity that his colleagues receive," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "Captain Phelps has made a commitment in life and will be legally married, but his husband will be treated as a stranger in the eyes of the federal government. It's time to end the discrimination of military families like theirs and repeal DOMA."

"As much as military leaders at all levels may wish to treat the troops under their command with equity, they are forced by federal law to discriminate," said Allyson D. Robinson, Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN. "As a result, gay and lesbian service members are denied access to critical benefits and meaningful support programs the services provides to help families face the unique challenges of military life. This denial weakens the force itself."

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