Fighting DOMA: The Case For Federal Same Sex Benefits

10:20 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Sixty percent of Americans think couples in existing same-sex marriages should be able to get the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive. 

Massachusetts wife and mom of twins Casey McLaughlin is keeping her eye on The Supreme Court's arguments this week on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). So is her legally recognized spouse, Shannon McLaughlin, a Major for the Massachusetts National Guard. They are at the forefront of this fight, and the Supreme Court's outcome will impact their lives directly.

Amidst the signs, and the chants at Tuesday's pro gay-marriage rally in front of the Supreme Court, stood Casey McLaughlin. The former-teacher-turned wife and mom of twins was there to speak to the crowd. 

"Do we seriously live in a country where Shannon is putting her life on the line every day but is not afforded the peace of mind to know that her family will be taken care of?"

Only 1 of the 4 people who make up this family is covered by healthcare from Shannon's job. And Shannon is the breadwinner. Casey quit her job as a teacher to stay at home and raise twins, Grant and Grace.

Casey explains, "We paid Cobra for 18 months then we were kicked off of that, and so it's been thousands of dollars that we had to pay to compensate for something that should've been in place all along."

The healthcare issue if one of more than a thousand benefits Casey, Grace and Grant don't receive, "If Shannon goes overseas, I can't go with her, or if I do go with her, I have to find my own accommodations.....if something happens to Shannon, God forbid, we're left with nothing."

That's why Casey and Shannon joined forces with seven other military couples and OutServe-SLDN to file a federal lawsuit to challenge DOMA back in October, 2011. Casey says it's important to stand up for what they believe in to set an example for their children.

At the rally, Casey yelled, "My marriage is equal to every other marriage!" 

If the Supreme Court agrees, the OutServe lawsuit will be proven moot, but only if the benefits for same-sex couples are identical to those for heterosexual couples. 

Casey cautions, "There's nothing that even close to equality than equality, so that idea of we can have something very similar but call it something else, it's not the same."

The Supreme Court should have their decision by June.

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