DOMA Decision Affects Family Finances

The US Supreme Court today overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), clearing a major roadblock to equal benefits for all married servicemembers, regardless of their genders.  This is a huge financial, emotional, and social change for same-sex families with one or both partners serving.

Prior to this decision, same-sex married couples were prevented from sharing in many of the benefits that the military provides to mixed-sex married couples.  With the overturn of DOMA, the Department of Defense (DoD) will be looking at the relevant laws to see if same-sex military spouses will be eligible for all of the benefits of other military spouses.  This includes Tricare medical coverage,  increased housing allowances, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, and PCS move entitlements.  Importantly, the list includes survivor benefits.

While there are legal questions to be worked out, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released the following statement shortly after the decision was announced:

“The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act,” it read. “The Department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do.

Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.”

While most people will say that the important part is that these marriages are legitimately recognized, the financial benefits will be huge for the individual families involved.   In addition to the military benefits that will be extended to same-sex couples, other federal benefits could also be allowed.  This includes income tax, estate tax, pension, and health care benefits.

The DoD has not yet announced when it expects to explain the impacts of the repeal of DOMA on benefits for same-sex married persons in the military.  In February, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that same-sex partners would be permitted to obtain military IDs and designated a 1 October 2013 deadline for implementing the change.  Advocates for the change feel that the DoD has been preparing for this change and that it should become reality quickly.  However, others argue that there are myriad legal and logistical issues to be resolved before the full effect of DOMA’s repeal can be realized.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • TodPedro

    I think it is great that the military is out front leading on this issue of basic fairness. Go Navy!

  • michael

    When Gods judgment comes down on the people that did this and the people who live this sinful life style there will be no place to run and no place hide, and let me just say that this is not a life style it is a mental illness and the fall out from all this will be very nasty soon the insurance industry will looking for ways to get around covering most of God sent sickness that will surely come to mankind , A majority of the people do not want or like this kind of thing among us but it seems that just a few that want to hold on to votes to stay in office will do anything and this is just one of the results .

    • Soldier

      It sounds like you are the one passing judgement. This is what is wrong with our society. Mankind passing judgement and teaching others to be bigots.

    • mickywatch

      I am for the separation of church and hate. I am living my life as a hardworking tax paying community volunteer, a veteran, a church going grandma AND as a life partner to my best friend and soul mate who happens to be a woman too. I have no fear of God’s judgement of me. MY faith tells me that my place will be next to HIM and you. Get ready, as you will want to demonstrate your love for all who dwell in his Kingdom when you get there. You wouldn’t want to get kicked out for being a hater, would you?

  • Edwin Bowers-

    The UCMJ will now have to be changed to allow Sodomy. Political correctness and our immoral and decatant society, along with our butt kissing political military leaders, are destroying our once great nation and underming the effectivness of our military. Who in their right mind would want their moral teenage daughter or son joining the military..

    • Linda

      Do you know what sodomy is? I am sure you and your wife enjoy it on a regular basis you f………ing bigot. I am moral person and so are my sons and daughters serving in the Military. They have no problem with the change. I bet you never served so shut the f up.

      • Mikel

        The federal government has become nothing more than pimps, paying people extra for having sex. They should get out of the sex business and repeal ALL benefits for ALL orientations. Give everyone a cross the board pay raise and withdraw themselves from being the arbiters of sex. It is not the business of anyone what people do in the privacy of their bedroom but in accepting the homosexuals as “normal” they have removed a moral distinction of deviant sex (which is what homosexual sex is, strictly scientifically, it deviates from normal, procreative sex.) When the military authority stepped away from drawing that distinction, they should get out of the sticky business of regulating and subsidizing it.

    • roman catolico

      i agree! our society has now gone beyond decadence. it is now evil!

    • Joe N

      Sadly, you’re correct. I would never have envisioned this change

    • Army LTC

      I am a heterosexual retired LTC who began as an Army Private. I spent 25 years active duty in the active Army retiring in 1996. I worked along side gay men and women in uniform all those years. Some were in more or less open relationships and some closeted. I also was aware of some other extracurricular personal heterosexual and consensual relationships which did not interfere with successful mission accomplishment. If you think that finally recognizing that there are same sex lovers in American society as well as in the military is “destroying our great nation, immoral,” etc. and by the way is is spelled decadent – not “decatant” – use your spell check to at least try to give you some semblance of being knowledge and able to think….what rock have you been living under? Get over your self righteous sodomy crap. Wage peace and celebrate diversity if you really want to raise decent children. However, sounds like you may have already failed in your life mission.

      • Soldier

        Well stated Sir!

      • Fellow Soldier

        Thank you Sir, I feel you understand that one’s sexual preference does not define one’s soul and dedication to duty. Thank you. Honor, Integrity and Dedication to duty (and by the way “willing to die for one’s country” is what it is all about. I am from back in the day when “Blacks” could not vote, and that too made no sense. I served my country proudly for 32 years and I NEVER EVER let that part of my life change, reflect or affect my service to country nor did I ever dishonor the trust my fellow soldiers and my country placed on me. I NEVER dated, flirted, or disgraced myself by actions unbecoming to a REAL SOLDIER. We all should be accountable for being the best we can and for being a good human being.

    • Chris Blackwell

      Nothing has changed in that there always have been gay members of the Armed Forces, going back the beginning of our country.. That has no effect on the straight members of our Armed Forces then or now.

    • Chris Ruiz

      Here is the sodomy definition according to the UCMJ:

      “unnatural carnal copulation for a person to take into that person’s mouth or anus the sexual organ of another person …; or to place that person’s sexual organ in the mouth or anus of another person …; or to have carnal copulation in any opening of the body, except the sexual parts, with another person.”

      The ellipsis only omits references to animals which is not the part you are worried about being “allowed”. You’re worried about the scary gay parts that you think are there. I would like you and others like you to take note: The word heterosexual or homosexual is not included in this definition. Soldiers joke about “missionary being the only authorized position”. It’s not a joke, it’s true. Unless you have never actually violated this military law, SHUT UP.

      Anyone would be hard pressed to find a heterosexual soldier that has not violated Article 125 – Sodomy that is not a virgin.

  • Active Duty

    Our Soldiers in the military are ready as ever to meet out nation’s defense demands regardless of their sexual orientation or personal beliefs. Any statement saying otherwise is probably coming from those that are either currently not serving or never will serve in today’s military. Its time we stop being hypocrites and afford equal rights to all citizens; particularly to the ones willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s about time we make “with liberty and justice for all” actually mean something.

    A VERY Straight Active Duty Soldier

    • SGT RC

      Hoah, thank you sir!

    • Karen


  • Ralph Howarth
    • roman catolico

      Correct! Though the Court has great influence over the other branches, it cannot make laws. We now rely on the morally upright members of both houses of Congress to keep sanity in our nation.

  • Ralph Howarth
  • Henry

    This opens the door for more and more perversion to go rampant in our society. We have some of the most immoral, God forsaken politicians in office. Yes…starting from the top on down. Remember, whatever a person sowes, they reap. A prcie will be paid. If not you, your child will pay it. We are already leaving our children to pay the trillion dollar deficit we are in. Why not a moral deficit. Stupid!

    • Linda

      Hey Henry, you are a creep. If you want to talk perversion lets talk priests molesting little boys. Or is that something you find morally sound?

      • Mikel

        Linda, your response to everyone with a different opinion than yours is insult and slander. How about being respectful of others views. An open exchange of ideals could lead to you learning something or seeing one thing or another in a different light. Insult and slander slams the door on open thought.

    • roman catolico

      i concur, henry! the god-forsaken justices and politicians have now sown an undue and unbearable burden to our children and grandchildren. may these justices and politicians pay the price of political correctness during their lifetimes!

      • Guest

        You are nuts….how is allowing people to get married an undue burden on your kids? I only hope your brood isn’t as close minded as you are

    • Chris Ruiz

      Sometime’s this nation is difficult to defend. Everytime I read 5 year old banter like this from adults, I am just left in shock.

      Are you all serious… and Pedro, … please stop breeding.

  • Fred

    I’m glad I served and got my retirement in over, before this stuff started going on.
    I feel the Marine Corps will surfer the most by this new law. We all stick together, and sleeping next to gay man on ship, oh boy.

    • Linda

      Fred if you think “all this stuff just started your living your life in a bubble”. Gay men and women have always proudly served their country. You just think it didn’t go on when you were in because no man ever made a pass at you. Gay men aren’t perverts. Straight men are the ones committing Military Sexual Assault.

      • Omega

        Thank you Linda some off these guys are so Naive to believe that gays have not always been here sweating and dieing right beside fellow service members we are very much respectable and we deserve to be ourselfs…..its not like the ppl you once knew will change there personalities we will just be able to enjoy what we have been denied for so long something we deserve its our friends dieing out there to I deserve to come home and be loved. after all its what we fight for

    • roman catolico

      i feel your pain, fred. let us not forget to turn to our lord and savior jesus christ for the much needed protection for our troops from the enemy within, from the domestic enemy!

    • Karen

      Good lord! You really believe that gays are never served with you? HAHAHAHA, that is so funny.

      PS, you are blind!

    • Mr. Heckles

      I bet you’re very unnattractive. Funny you think a gay man is going to hit on you. lol

  • Kin ads

    I wonder if the former spouse protection act will apply here with gay divorce.
    I wonder if ACLU will seek an exception for gay service members .
    How soon before polygamy and bisexual polygamy is approved.
    How are we going to pay for all these fed benefits.

    • Proud
    • KateKashman

      Folks, please keep the comments clean and civil. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I will not tolerate people being mean to each other. Thank you!

  • Retired Vet

    As a service member who served her country for many years to retirement and am now in a same-sex marriage will be watching with great anticipation for my marriage partner to receive bteranoth medical and spousal death benefits.


    Pure ignorance….I’m a Navy Veteran, served my country honorably, I have higher education (Masters degree), and I have a wife – Get over it! I am not a second-class citizen as your bigoted comments suggest. This is not a religious issue, as this country has a separation of church & state. It is an issue of EQUALITY, plain and simple. The discrimination African Americans suffered from back in the day, is NO DIFFERENT from the discrimination suffered by the LGBT Community. This is basic civil rights. I’m quite certain that if and when you encounter it in your personal life, you will have quite a different outlook on it. Maybe a previous writer had it right….maybe YOU are the one struggling with your own sexuality.

    • vet3456

      Bull crap their is a difference. I do not care if your an ex nuke scientist. That’s like saying just because you have a degree you have a card to do whatever you want. African Americans did not have a choice to enter this country. Gays have a choice. And yes I did serve with gays in my units. I have not seen any gays picking cotton for a master. In fact never seen no gays building the pyramids in Egypt like the Jewish people. Maybe dance to Y.M.C.A and that’s it.

      • USNJAGLN
    • Omega

      Could not have said it betetr myself

  • Lee Rastetter

    This is a great decision. Our country is now a ‘more perfect union’. Unfortunately, DOMA does not give all married military equal rights at the Federal laws. It all depends on the specific federal ‘benefit’. Some ‘benefits’ require that you be legally married in the state in which you reside. For those benefits our dedicated military will not yet receive equality if they live in a state that still discriminates against same sex couples. Fortunately, DoD only looks to see if the couple has a valid marriage certificate, so married same sex DoD couples will get all DoD benefits. I am so proud of this country move toward full equality. This is an example of where our ‘checks and balances’ works.

  • William McKeon

    Anything goes now! This promotes only Gay military and what do straight folks do, stay home !

    • Karen

      GOOD. Stay home.

  • Karen

    Some of you people have lost your mind. I served, proudly for 20 years and gave it my all. And to suggest that with the appeal of DOMA that some how the moral and dignity will be changed forever? What planet do you all live in?
    Here is what I saw in my 20 years. While us gays were doing our thing, I saw countless straight sailors, who were married, cheating, getting people pregnant, drug and alcohol abuse, and fraternization.
    WHY do you think that there were low numbers of gays violating the UCMJ? Because we did not want to be in the spotlight.

    So glad that our country has finally caught up to other countries when it comes to equality. Hell, even CANADA moved forward on this issue YEARS ago.

    Trust me, you will be alright. Oh, and if you are curious as to what would Jesus do? Considering he was not a hateful, prejudice kind of guy, I know that he is even saying, ABOUT TIME. People should be treated with respect.

    • Diana

      I could not agree more.

    • Nils

      Right on Karen, well spoken

  • Vet 3456

    The Lord did not love Sodom aka( sodomy) or Gomorah.. In fact he destroyed it.

    • Chris Ruiz

      so… what’s Gomorah-y?

      That story is about rape. You are special

  • vet3456


  • Chris Blackwell

    There have been gays serving in the military since the beginning. My father knew of it in World War II and I knew of it in the Vietnam War. This has no affect on the non gay population so why all the hypocritical noise.