DOMA: BLAG files motion to intervene in challenge by married military veterans seeking spousal benefits
May 1, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
Thanks to Kathleen in Quick Hits for this
In McLaughlin v. Panetta, gay and lesbian military servicemembers who are married are challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and three other federal statutes affecting spousal benefits, leaving married gays and lesbians without the same legal protections and benefits as straight married couples. The Department of Justice has refused to defend both Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (the only section at issue in DOMA challenges) and federal laws pertaining to military benefits that operate in exactly the same way DOMA does. This would leave these provisions without a defense unless BLAG chose to intervene to defend the statutes, and today they did:
Update in McLaughlin v. Panetta (SLDN DOMA challenge)
Per motion, plaintiffs object to intervention and the DOJ does not object but will file a response.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a statement, reading in part:
Washington, D.C.) Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today fired back at Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and his Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) for their request to intervene in McLaughlin v. U.S., the landmark federal court case filed in October 2011 by eight married gay and lesbian service members and veterans, who are represented by SLDN and Chadbourne & Parke. The case challenges the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and three other federal statutes – Titles 10, 32, and 38 – that preclude the military from providing equal recognition, support, and benefits for all military families. The Department of Justice announced its intention related to the case in a letter sent to Boehner on February 17, 2012, triggering the BLAG to make known its position.
“Speaker Boehner’s request to defend this case in the wake of the ongoing harm done to military families by these discriminatory laws is reprehensible and callous. The Speaker has turned a deaf ear to the urgent pleas of CW2 Charlie Morgan and countless families like hers, who are living with the day-to-day realities of a military that has been forced to create two classes of service members,” said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
The number of challenges to DOMA keeps growing, and with that, so does the number of cases in which the Republican-led House is choosing to intervene.