Late last week the Department of Defense released new details about expanding services from its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program to the families of straight servicemembers while explicitly excluding American LGBT troops. But the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network won't this DADT-esque discrimination go away lightly.
In a letter sent to Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis makes a point that the exclusion of military same-sex couples was unnecessary and a slap in the face.
We were surprised to read the details of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program released last week. While we applaud your effort to expand this program to cover many more people in the military family, we are troubled that it continues this same sort of discrimination. It correctly provides that if a service member is the victim of a sexual assault, counseling services should be made available to members of his or her family. However, the Directive is needlessly drafted to exclude same-sex spouses from those eligible for this counseling.
There is much that you can do today that would be meaningful to service members and their families (and that would not burden the Department or the armed services). You can permit identification cards to be issued to same-sex spouses of service members. This would, for example, allow the wife of Maj Shannon McLaughlin to take their one-year-old twins to base medical services and the base daycare. It would also permit Casey McLaughlin and other samesex spouses to take part in family support programs when their service member spouse is deployed.
Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, November 30, 2010 at 145. The year that has passed since the Department said it would continue to study this question is more than enough for it to have come to agree with the Working Group's understated observation that "[t]here is an element of fairness and equality to this approach." Every day that passes, families of service members are being denied the support that tens of thousands of other military families rely upon.
While DADT is dust, it's crystal Pepsi clear thanks to circumstances like these that we have much work ahead to ensure the equal treatment of our cherished LGBT servicemembers.