In my mind, the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act did not completely rule the act as unconstitutional. It did rule that those who married their same-sex partner in one of the 12 states where same-sex marriages are legal will be eligible for federal benefits. It does not say states in which same-sex marriage is not legal must recognize those marriages.
When it comes to military installations there is a lot to consider. Again, in my understanding, same-sex marriages are recognized for benefits — on-base housing, medical, commissary privileges, etc., which most spouses receive. They are federal benefits so same-sex spouses are included under this umbrella.
But what about other issues? Let’s look at spouse clubs. Ft. Bragg had a case when a same-sex spouse of an Army Lieutenant Colonel who wanted to join the Officers’ Spouse Club. Initially the club denied her application, but after fighting the rejection, it allowed her membership. In this case, does federal law or state law rule?
Or what if the base chapel holds a marriage retreat. Are they required to include same-sex couples even if it goes against the beliefs of the chaplains? Right now, chaplains are not required to do same-sex marriages if it is against their denomination’s stance. Will that change?
To me, the issue comes down to funding. If the above mentioned retreats or spouse clubs receive federal funding, then I think under the new ruling, same-sex couples should be included. If not, then the individual organizations should have a say in who is included. In most cases, the wording of spouse club by-laws allows for same-sex spouses if the marriage is legally recognized.
I don’t have the answers, but I bet the questions come up soon.
What’s happening on your bases? Are any of these issues coming up yet? Let me know in the comments section.