First person: Supreme Court will likely decide the fate of my family

Yahoo Contributor Network

Editor's note: On March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that may redefine how the country recognizes same-sex unions. In one, United States v. Windsor, the court could determine whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marry. The other, Hollingsworth v. Perry, tackles Proposition 8, which denies same-sex marriage in California and which voters narrowly approved in 2008. 

To familiarize yourself with the cases, read the SCOTUS blog primers here and here.

Yahoo News asked Americans who will be directly impacted by these cases to share their stories and perspectives. Here's one.


This week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments that will likely decide the fate of my family. What is a momentous occasion for many same-sex couples in America, is also a business-as-usual work week for us. Like we do every day, my wife and I will go to work, chat about our schedules, walk the dog, pay the bills and look forward to doing it all again next week. It’s not all mundane—Wednesdays are our date nights. We usually catch a movie, try a new restaurant or drive around to look at houses in the neighborhoods we want to live in someday. OK, so it’s pretty mundane, but it works for us. We work hard for our “regular” lives, for what straight couples get for just being together. And still, after jumping through all the hoops, we are relegated to second-class status.

We’re married, legally; Karane even asked my mother for her blessing to propose. We filled out all the paperwork and did the premarital counseling; we did everything by the book. And yet, as a federal employee and an airman in the United States Air Force, I am still a legal stranger to Karane. I can’t add her to my health insurance or take off work to care for her if she’s sick. If I am killed or missing in action while deployed, they will notify my mom and dad only. I had to list Karane as my sister so that they would notify her at all, and she can only receive my remains if both my parents are deceased. As a federal employee working at an agency that manages retirement benefits, I am reminded every day that my relationship comes with an asterisk. If it’s not the extra paperwork I have to fill out so Karane can be listed as my beneficiary, it’s redrafting content for the Web to clearly define what we mean by “spouse.” It’s a constant reminder that even though we work hard, put the work into our marriage and jump through every hoop that swings toward us, we are still “less-than.”

Since we are technically strangers, we cannot qualify for a VA loan together, I don’t get any additional benefits from the military for being married, Karane can’t even get a base ID that other spouses get so they can shop at the BX and Commissary. It’s little frustrations, I know, but they build up. The scariest part is the threat of deployment. What is scary for most families is even more frightening for mine. Because of DOMA, I would be considered single for the purposes of my deployment. That means the benefits, safety nets, aid, and support for families of deployed airman don’t apply to my family. There is no protection for my family at all because according to the military, I don’t have one.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will decide, but I hope they decide to sit on the right side of history. We are not asking for special rights, or any additional allowances. We are merely asking for the same benefits other married couples receive, and the recognition that our family is as valued as any other American family.

When DOMA is overturned, I firmly plan on popping in Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.,” probably shedding tears of joy and doing my happy dance in front of anyone who will watch.

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