As Gov. Christie strikes down our rights in New Jersey, it appears that the Obama Administration seems to be steadily moving toward the Promised Land. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans’ benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court.
This, of course, comes after the Obama Administration’s prior decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being solely between a man and a woman in the eyes of the federal government.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) had this to say: "We are pleased that the Attorney General has decided not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the military context, just as he has declined to defend it in other contexts. We are also delighted that, for the first time, he has said that separate definitions that apply to military veterans are also unconstitutional. This is an important step for the McLaughlin plaintiffs."
Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin and her wife, Casey have been legally married for three years and have a son, but federal laws prohibit Casey from receiving any housing or health benefits from the military.
Nerdy sidebar: Apparently, attorneys for the McLaughlin plaintiffs argued that the statute was a violation of their equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment, rather than the more widely cited Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause. Interesting! Well, we think it’s interesting.
Yay for progress!