Regardless of how you feel about the June 26 Supreme Court ruling barring discrimination against legally married same-sex couples, the military’s mission now is clear: Quickly and seamlessly make this work.
The ruling leaves the issue of what constitutes a “marriage” to the individual states. But the military cannot operate under different rules depending on where a service member is based or where he or she may have gotten married.
There’s no indication that defense officials are thinking along those lines, but just to be sure, lawmakers are already readying legislation in both the House and Senate to ensure that all legally married same-sex military spouses are eligible for military benefits, regardless of where their military sponsors are assigned.
There will undoubtedly be some worries about what happens the first time a same-sex couple moves into base housing, or shops in the commissary, or waits in line at the clinic, or celebrates a homecoming in public. But once the novelty wears off, it won’t be a big deal. These things already happen all over America every day.
Defense officials clearly were poised for this possibility; on the same day the ruling came down, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the regulations for issuing military ID cards to same-sex spouses, the gateway to all military benefits, would be revised within weeks.
It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. In fact, it doesn’t need to be more complicated than allowing all legally married troops — straight or gay — to simply check the “married” box on their personnel forms. In that, everyone is the same.