Last night, President Obama indicated that he intends to follow through on his administration’s commitment to LGBT equality. We applaud Mr. Obama, in particular, for his promise to “ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families—gay and straight.” Combined with the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it will provide some benefits for LGBT military spouses, this shows the strength of our momentum. The arc of history may be slow, but it does bend.
Of course, the President and the Pentagon are limited by discriminatory federal legislation to a certain extent—namely the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which restricts well over 1000 spousal benefits and protections to opposite-sex married couples. While we hope the Supreme Court will side with justice and the majority of the country who support equal rights to relationship recognition, this heartbreaking Washington Post editorial reminds us: every day our federal laws enshrine inequality is a day too long. Our nation’s laws and policies must change to reflect the rich diversity and pressing needs of our families. For more on the ways that DOMA harms children and families, read our report, All Children Matter.
Looking to the future, Mr. Obama articulated a number of proposals supporting “a strong, thriving middle class” and “stronger families.” We stand with him in calling for passage of the Violence Against Women Act, ratified yesterday in the Senate. Another aspect he highlighted was education, which is absolutely a priority for the one million LGBT parents in this country. In the words of Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform including protections for same-sex couples; gun control legislation; pre-k education; equal treatment and benefits for all military families; affordable higher education; an increased minimum wage—all of these are important to parents who want nothing more than for their kids to grow up secure, healthy, safe, and with the same opportunities in life as all children.”