The officials say the assortment of laws on the books now is harming the military because routine changes of duty stations can force same-sex couples to move to states where their marriage is not legally valid, according to military Times.
“Those willing to risk their lives for the security of their country should never be forced to risk losing the protections of marriage and the attendant rights of parenthood simply because their service obligations require them to move to states that refuse to recognize their marriages,” according to a copy of the amicus curie brief submitted to the Supreme Court.
“The strains imposed on married gay and lesbian service members by such state laws can impair military readiness, morale, effectiveness, and the military’s ability to recruit and retain talented personnel,” according to the brief.
Signers of the friend-of-the-court brief include retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak; former Secretary of Army Joe Reeder; former Pentagon personnel officials Rudy DeLeon and Larry Korb; William Lynn III, who was the Pentagon’s No. 2 man under President Obama; Doug Wilson, who is a former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs; and Patrick Murphy, an Iraq veteran and former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case April 28 involving a group of same-sex couples asking the court to rule that all states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.
Same-sex military couples who move to a state where their marriage is not legally recognized can face limits on their rights to have legal custody of their children, their ability to make medical decisions for their spouses and the legal rights of survivorship in the event a spouse dies.
“If military personnel are worried about their families’ well-being, then readiness, morale, effectiveness, and unit cohesion suffer,” according to the brief.
Since 2013, the Pentagon has recognized same-sex marriages regardless of where service members are stationed. Same-sex couples who want to get married but do not live in states where same-sex marriages is legal can be granted leave for travel to a state where it is legal.
The Supreme Court has also received a separate brief from advocates for gay and lesbian service members, which argued that the current laws may pose a recruiting and retention problem for the military because otherwise well-qualified people may not want to serve in the military if it requires assignments in states where same-sex marriage is illegal.