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Monday, March 7, 2011

Gay Military Couples With Kids Eligible for Housing

While the federal Defense of Marriage Act will keep married gay couples out of base housing despite the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, gay service members with dependents and a partner that is the primary caregiver have no barriers to housing eligibility, according to recently-published Marine Corps documents.  And that loophole has some who oppose gays in the military concerned.
That scenario is spelled out in one of many vignettes included in a 44-page briefing for Marine judge advocates. According to the document obtained by, a gay service member with a qualifying dependent child "is indeed authorized Military Family Housing," and base policies "regarding live-in child care providers or other non-dependents living in base housing should be followed for the same-sex partner."
Bottom line, says Center for Military Readiness president Elaine Donnelly, "the DoD will permit access to military family quarters if a homosexual servicemember adopts a child and his partner becomes the live-in caretaker."
Donnelly, whose organization opposed repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, said Pentagon insistence that base housing would not open to gay couples was misleading. In Capitol Hill testimony last year, Defense Department officials said the Defense of Marriage Act -- the 1996 law defining marriage for federal purposes as a union between one man and one woman -- would bar spousal benefits, including family quarters, from going to gay partners. The scenario outlined in the Marine Corps training briefing essentially depicts an end-run around DOMA, according to Donnelly.
"They've been playing the DOMA card repeatedly, and it's a false card," Donnelly said.
Donnelly said it never occurred to lawmakers during testimony last fall to ask about a scenario that involves a gay partner who also acts as the caregiver, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen never mentioned it. "It's beyond disingenuous," she said.
Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan rejected the idea that officials "hoodwinked" anyone. Extending to gay Marines with a dependent child the same rights that already exist for straight Marines is an equality issue, he said.
"The vignettes are intended to cover a wide range of possible scenarios to ensure those being trained understand how to act in various situations. I don't see anything inconsistent between the training scenarios and our public statements on this issue," he said.


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