Of DOMA, Defense, Duplicity, and Diligence
Let freedom ring! It rang so loudly and clearly on June 26, 2013 at this nation's Supreme Court. It sounded a death knell for blatant oppressors. But it must also serve as a clarion warning of the duplicity and treachery of those who will most assuredly try to undermine its effectiveness and significance, especially in our Department of Defense's (DoD's) Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Unfortunately, we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) have long been used to seeing the Constitution trampled upon by the arrogant and ignorant theocratic opponents of religious freedom within the U.S. Military. However, the Supreme Court's watershed June 26 decision striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a resounding victory for the nation, the armed forces, and the United States Constitution itself. DOMA's repeal, effective immediately, lifts the once-ironclad, draconian denial of marriage benefits for the partners of servicemembers and veterans. Via the flushing down the toilet of this egregiously anti-gay law that defined marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman, the Supreme Court has sent a crystal clear message that the U.S. Military is open to all motivated and capable Americans willing to serve their country. No one need ever again "live a lie," as a matter of law, as to their sexuality and/or gender preference in our country's military services. This decision also comes as a firm and severe rebuff to the fundamentalist Christian bigots who have rabidly subjected the civil rights of the LGBT community to a severe and interminable assault.
MRFF has long worked closely with our lesbian, gay, and bisexual allies in uniform. 801 of our over 33,600 clients are from the LGB community alone. Each of these clients has recounted to us in vivid detail their own personal trials and tribulations, depicting a hideous and tragic panorama of collective suffering that has savagely afflicted a grievously oppressed community within the armed forces.
Under the perniciously cruel "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) regime of enforced "closeting" (read: lying), LGB servicemembers were forced to live a mandated "dual existence," separating their military careers from a Pentagon-mandated, fictitious personal life of lies. The already Promethean challenges of military life were exponentially compounded by the profound anxieties borne of constantly dwelling in the trembling shadows of innocent and undeserved shame. Uncle Sam literally pointed a big, condemnatory finger at some of our bravest and most valiant men and women in uniform and told them that, despite sacrificing far, far more than the amount of fortitude expected of their fellow servicemembers, they'd still better "shut the hell up" or they'd be ignominiously and summarily booted out of the U.S. armed forces. This dreadful nightmare of civil rights desecration was made all the worse by the officially-sanctioned bigotry emanating from the legion of Christian fundamentalists who are inextricably intertwined in the vast and byzantine DoD bureaucracy. These religious predators oppressively operate and boldly bully quite openly in the armed forces, a phenomenon about which MRFF has long sounded wailing sirens of primal, screaming rage.
Following the recent repeal of DADT, it was no longer the case that servicemembers would be forced to attend the funerals of their comrades-in-arms alone, foregoing the considerable comfort of standing with their partners by their side for fear of being "outed."
The proverbial (pun intended) writing was on the wall. The cultural shifts of equal protection and respect in the U.S. had rendered the embittered adherents of Jerry Falwell's hyper-hypocritical "Moral Majority" into dinosaurs - barely living fossils. And such was no less the case in the U.S. military.