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.

17 Comments on "DOMA Decision Affects Family Finances"

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

  2. 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 .

  3. Edwin Bowers- | June 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

    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..

  4. Active Duty | June 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

    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

  5. Ralph Howarth | June 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Ralph Howarth | June 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Retired Vet | June 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. Lee Rastetter | June 28, 2013 at 10:43 am |

    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.

  13. William McKeon | June 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

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

  14. 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.

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

  16. B/S

  17. Chris Blackwell | June 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

    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.

Comments are closed.