(Washington DC/New York City) Today, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released the newest video in their joint "Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry" campaign, featuring gay U.S. Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps and his soon-to-be husband Ben Schock. Captain Phelps and Schock previously made news when they became the first-ever same-sex couple to get engaged through a marriage proposal at the White House.
"There seems to be a contradiction between serving my country and my country not fully supporting my relationship with Ben," says Captain Phelps in the video. "Every day, I'm reminded that my marriage to Ben is different from everybody else's marriage, and it's just not right." The full video can be viewed here.
Captain Phelps will marry Schock in May in Seattle, Washington, and he will subsequently be transferred to Japan this summer for a minimum of two years. But because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Schock will not be allowed to join him on base. Even though they will be legally married, Schock must leave the country every 90 days at his and his husband's own expense, just to reenter again. The military does not provide the same housing allowance and assistance for married same-sex couples as it does for opposite-sex married couples, which will make it more difficult for Schock to find a job and for them both to support one another financially.
"As Captain Phelps prepares to put his life on the line every day for his country, his government has yet to ensure that his marriage will be given the same respect and dignity that his colleagues receive," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "Captain Phelps has made a commitment in life and will be legally married, but his husband will be treated as a stranger in the eyes of the federal government. It's time to end the discrimination of military families like theirs and repeal DOMA."
"As much as military leaders at all levels may wish to treat the troops under their command with equity, they are forced by federal law to discriminate," said Allyson D. Robinson, Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN. "As a result, gay and lesbian service members are denied access to critical benefits and meaningful support programs the services provides to help families face the unique challenges of military life. This denial weakens the force itself."
ABOUT FREEDOM TO MARRY: Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
ABOUT OUTSERVE-SLDN: OutServe-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6000 members around the world It works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org .