A War Widow With no Benefits

flag folded

Imagine your servicemember dies. Imagine no one notifies you. Imagine you learn from his sister — not from a uniformed pair at your doorstep. Imagine you get no honors as a widow of a fallen servicemember, no recognition, no folded flag and no death benefits.

Imagine that, and you imagine yourself in the shoes of war widow Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice, a gay military spouse, married to Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson who was killed in Afghanistan Oct. 1.

Watch a video about her here.


As the original story on Army Times says (unavailable to link because it is available only to paid subscribers), the military believes Dice is the first widow of a gay spouse. That makes her the first gay spouse since the lifting of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) more than a year ago to deal with ramifications of the Defense of Marriage Act on gay servicemembers.

The issue isn’t a surprise, but it is a problem. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, the DoD does not recognize gay marriage as a legal union and, therefore, does not give any benefits to gay spouses. That includes death benefits.

Watch the video and you’ll see the heartbreak written on Dice’s face. She is in mourning. And, although she clearly states in the story that she does view herself as one, she is the victim of a cruel double standard. Regardless of what you think about gay marriage, the double standard is obvious. With the lifting of DADT Dice and Johnson could live out in the open — they can support each other, they can do everything that makes a military spouse a military spouse … except receive support.

Isn’t there something wrong with that?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Dotee Lee

    My heart goes out to Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice and Staff Sgt Donna Johnson and to the families. Bless you all.

  • Brenna

    Wait a minute, isn’t it the service members right to pick who gets notified in the case of death? It doesn’t even have to be a spouse if you are married. So isn’t the service member partly to blame here? I mean, not to sound mean hateful here, sorry about that. I am a huge supporter of marriage rights to everyone who wants them! Perhaps she had her sister on her paperwork before DADT and just didn’t change the notification. That is only covering the notification part. The other issues I have no other logical reasoning for any exclusion for any support for this poor woman.

    A widow is a widow, heartbreak is heartbreak. How the hell do you excuse playing politics with someones loss of life? Grief support should be open to everyone, and I mean everyone. No matter what our differences we all experience heartbreak because we all require one to be alive

    • Bonnie

      Notification is your N.O.K., which means that yes, it would have been another family member because the military would not recognize the marriage.

    • oma-9405

      As a retired US Army personnel specialist, I can tell you that the service member is responsible for keeping DD Form 93, Record of Emergency Data current. The document provides information as to who is notified in any case of ’emergency’. The card includes naming the person to receive death benefits. The member is also responsible for maintaining the Form SGLV 8286, Life Insurance. There are no restrictions on who can be designated. During my career, I spent a few years with the ARNG and USAR. Based on that experience, reservists are not very good at fulfilling the annual requirement for reviewing and updating their information. The active duty military understands the importance and yet many of them fail to maintain and update records as changes take place (marriage, divorce, address changes, etc.). This circumstance is unfortunate, however, the basic responsibility for informing the military branch of service lies in the hands of the service member.

      • armyvet

        OMA, please look at this form and tell us all how this soldier could have specified her wife to be notified in case of her death. http://www.armygold.pdx.edu/docs/DDF93.pdf

        Also, you may not realize this, but there are many other benefits a widow can obtain through the military. They must be federally recognized as married in order to obtain these benefits. THAT is what this woman is being denied, not life insurance, not SGLI.

        • ArmyBrat
        • ArmyBrat
      • Guest

        totally agree with oma-9405
        the SM can assign any person of their choosing for their SGLI and emergency contact. The only thing (which is still huge) this widow would not have been able to get is the veteran’s benefits. The SM messed up by not changing their doc. Maybe no one informed her she could/should change it, but that is not DoD’s fault the widow did not receive the SGLI

  • Dana

    I agree with Brenna. The notification would have been done according the paperwork that was filled out by the service member.
    As for the benefits, can’t a service member chose whomever they would like the benefits to go to? Before my husband and I got married, he had his parents as the beneficiaries. When we did our wills (which dearly need to be updated), we were given the option to give the benefits to whoever. I’m curious to know what SSG Johnson’s will states.
    Unfortunately, until the gov’t and the military pull their heads out of the sand and realize that times are changing, then nothing is going to change with regulation. I feel for SSG Dice. Losing someone, no matter who they are is hard for everyone to go through. Hopefully being that she is active duty as well, she can take advantage of some of the services they are provided with regardless.

    • ArmyVet

      Next of kin does not include same sex partner- it must be a legally recognized kin which means it must be by blood or legally recognized marriage. You can choose who your benefits and body go to, it doesn’t have to be a next of kin.

      • Oma-9405

        The forms are commonly referred to as NOK notification, however, in more than 20 years of service in personnel admin, a member can list any person they choose, it does not have to be a blood relative. One can name anyone to be notified, to receive the death benefit and to receive the insurance.

      • ArmyBrat
    • steve

      Looks lie amnd sounds lie the DADT crowd is fast at work agoin, or should I say STILL!!!??? Whoever wrote this article is sure to raise the hair on many but I see it as another stab by the DADT crowd….
      Sure times have changed….they have been changing since BEFORE and AFTER Christ’s time on earth! Does that mean we all are suppose to jump off the cliff, if that is the current breeze blowing amongst us Socially? Get a life will you……

    • Guest

      In response to both Brenna and Dana, You are correct and you can specify who gets notified and your benefits should you be killed in the line of duty. Sorry about her loss but her partner should have filled out the paperwork correctly.

      • armyvet


        Guest, that is NOT true. Your death notification, body and benefits are all separate. Your death notification can only go to relatives- by blood or federally recognized marriage. Please do some research before you blame a dead soldier.

        • Oma-9405

          Read the instructions on the form 93 (which most folks do not do) one can name ANY person they choose. Blood relationships or marriage are not relevant.

    • Greg Keer


      Being a lawyer I will take a guess in trying to answer this question. The couple had to have a legally valid marriage before one begins the DOMA analysis. For the sake of discussion I assume a legally valid marriage occurred. I will take a wild guess and say that the paper work was not correctly completed by the deceased. With no designation of a beneficiary the default provisions concerning the recipients of the decedents benefits probably follow: first spouse, second parents, and third siblings.

      The surviving spouse will have to sue to prove her legal status as a spouse. This assumes that no designation of beneficiary was completed. If the decedent designated someone besides the surviving spouse as the beneficiary the complexities spiral outside of a one or two paragraph answer.

      • armyvet

        Greg, this is about notification of death as well as survivor benefits. Your death notification, body and benefits and long term support are all separate. Your death notification can only go to relatives- by blood or federally recognized marriage. Additionally benefits cannot be given to a same sex spouse, no matter what you put down on the paperwork.

        Here is the form: http://www.armygold.pdx.edu/docs/DDF93.pdf

      • Oma-9405

        You are correct, sir, regarding the member’s maintenance of personnel records. If the Service followed instructions provided on the requisite documents, DD 93 and SGLV 8286, as completed/signed by the member, there is no recourse and filing suit against the Service would seem fruitless. The decedent’s instructions were followed.

    • Oma-9405

      DD Form 93, Emergency Data information has nothing to do with a will. If a beneficiary for death benefit is not named, the benefit is not paid. In the case of insurance, when a beneficiary is not named the distribution is based on the laws in the state claimed as home of record. In any case, it appears that the servicemember failed to complete/update this information.

      • armyvet

        OMA, you may not realize this, but there are many other benefits a widow can obtain through the military. They must be federally recognized as married in order to obtain these benefits. THAT is what this woman is being denied, not life insurance, not SGLI. She also was not notified of her wife’s death because Form 93 doesn’t allow same sex partners.

    • jmsmaxwell

      I would say that one member did not change their paperwork in accordance to military regulations.
      If the deceased memer had indicated who to notify in accordance with the regulations then they
      would have notifyied the other party. As far as benifits the military regulation do not recognize
      marriage between memers of the same sex. Until that issued is resolved one way or another she
      does not qualify. We have all lost good friends in our careers in the service. For some of them we
      have special and deep emotional connections and we will always carry them in our hearts. You
      cannot explain nor expect others to comprehend nor understand the bonds formed in combat.

  • John Sakowich

    Im sorry but being gay doesn’t allow you benefits. You not married
    God made people a certian way for a reason. We have to start at sometime
    to quit apeasing everyone and treating Christians like second class citizens
    Our country was not built buy gay and Lesbions. It was built by Christians

    • Old Chief

      John,Times are a’changing and we (you) need to get in step with everyone else.Like it or not, this is the law of the land and must be obeyed.Your diatribe makes no sense and only shows your predudice and homophobic bent. I don’t know you or your background,but I am the father of five great kids and grandfather to five more.One of my daughters is gay. She’s a PHD at a prestigous university where she is the chair of her department. I also have a grandson who is gay. He also is very successful and someone to be proud of. So,John, how could I ever turn my back on them? They did not ask to be born this way. I ,too, am christian and doesn’t the bible tell us to love one another?I love you,and don’t even know you.I’ll be praying for you to see the light and pray that you do not father a gay child.

      • Sandra

        Times may be a’changing but God never does.

        • Old Chief

          Amen to that. And that is why we are taught to love and judge no one.

          • Heather

            Wait, it is not about judging though. No one is looking at gays and saying, “you are evil!” People are just saying, because you made a choice to go outside of the rules of our society does not mean that one of the biggest parts of our society is all of a sudden going to change for you. And to say that this woman looked so grieved when she learned of her wife’s death… duh. Why does that apply? Unless they are saying, oh- it wasn’t a money scam marriage, they actually did have sex and such like married couples… then what does it matter? A live in boyfriend would grieve over the passing of his girlfriend. Humans grieve the deaths of others. Humans have sex with each other. It is something bigger than that defining what marriage is.

      • New navy
        • Heather

          lol that kind of sounded sarcastic

        • A Chief

          Boy that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time! I doubt you know how you get BAH…

          • Heather

            Are you gay? Is that why you are taking this topic so personally and being rude to everyone with an opinion? If you are truly a chief, act like one- you ought to be a mature individual capable of leading a conversation in a respectful manner. Or maybe “chief’ is some gamer tag to you. My husband is ranked far below a chief and has the competence to act like an adult when he does not agree with others. Try it, Chief- only good leaders can.

      • red2429

        “Like it or not, this is the law of the land and must be obeyed”. I could care less ether way but you are right DOMA is the law of the land as well as the repeal of DADT. I would probably rephrase your statement.

      • Jimbo

        @ Old Chief – “Times are a’changing and we (you) need to get in step with everyone else.Like it or not, this is the law of the land and must be obeyed.”

        If sodomy, incest, and cannibalism were the “law of the land” , would you still get in step like everyone else?

        Get real. Some people have their own moral standards which do not see eye to eye with the immoral inhabitants of DC.

        • Frank

          Jimbo, why do you conservative always spew the ame crap!! you live by your moral code and others will live by theirs. This person was gay and HONORBLY lost the life defending this nation and douchebags like you so that you could rant you disrepectgul garbage!

        • Heather

          THANK YOU JIMBO!

      • Vieteravet

        What do you mean, fall in step like Hliter made the Germans do? The dyke should get insurance, but has no right to military benefits. I think you need to read your Bible a little better. Christianity is not a buffet that you pick and choose what you agree with and dismiss what you don’t.

        • A Chief

          Not everyone in the military is a Christian – what is this obsession about what the Bible says?
          Obviously you guys never served in the military, or you violated your oath (to uphold the Constitution). It breaks my heart whenever I see that kind of claptrap tied in with the military. Google the oath of enlistment and you will see we enlisted took an oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I consider you to be the latter as your opinion flies in the face of the Constitution.

    • CalBM1

      You have got to be shi**in me. Dosnt the Bible state Dont ye judge lest you be judged ? If people pay their taxes they deserve to be treated like everybody else. Study your history about being founded by christians,not all of them were .

    • Luke

      Obviously you don’t know your history…. The on of the major reasons we won the war 230 years ago was because of a gay man.

      Also, in what way are Christians being treated as second class citizens? Because they cannot be given arbitrary power in circumstances such as this? The First Amendment is pretty self explanatory on that.

      • Ann P, USMC

        So do tell, who was that?

        • Luke

          Obviously you don’t know your history…. The on of the major reasons we won the war 230 years ago was because of a gay man: Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben; the man responsible for Training over half of the Continental army.

    • Antwan C. Nicholson

      That’s about the most ignorant statement I’ve heard this year. DADT has been overturned. DOMA “should” have been amended at the same time. This would’ve given gays and lesbians the option to legally marry their significant other in a state that supports it. If the military allows gays and lesbians to serve, they should acknowledge their marriage.

      • Dan

        Love the sinner, hate the sin. With that being said, DOMA, defends the religious term for Marriage. Marriage is a religious word/act the portrays the covenant of Christ and The Church involving a man and a woman. Man/Man or Woman/Woman is not a marriage, it is a union and the gov’t doesn’t recognize unions, only marriages.

        Call gay couples whatever you would like, except married.

    • Ann P, USMC

      Actually America was built by slaves and the last time I check America was already here before Columbus set foot on it so if you want to be technical America was built by thieves and murders. So does that mean that only convicts, murderers and thieves make up our decisions now?

      • Jimbo
      • vieteravet

        God with logic like that, how the hell did you get into the Marines?

    • Phoenix8

      Amen!!! We are all born in sin. We are to be reborn in Christ. Shall we next say it is ok to be a pedifile. God does not change and sin is still sin no matter what you call it. God made male and female. You can not change God’s plan to suit your lusts.

      • grunt

        So Phoenx8, what is God’s plan?
        Did God make earthworms? Because they are hermaphroditic and can reproduce without separately defined sexes; those lusty little worms. Did God may Clown fish? Because they will genetically alter to become male or female as required by population pressures. Imagine that. God has created creatures who have the ability as part of their God Given nature to be what we humans would term as gay.
        So why don’t we do that? Why don’t we execute the dog that humps our leg? Because that is bestiality and that dog is going to hell for that. It might be that the stigma and defamation of character against gay and lesbians is a human creation and had nothing to do with how God sees his children.
        Do you have the ability to cast one of God’s Children from his house? If not, I would spend time worrying about my own sins and less about someone else’s who cannot hurt you.

        • Heather

          ok, non- Christian, did you read the part where god set man apart by giving him a soul? There are different rules for us than worms and you don’t need to be a Christian to see that. wow

    • Agent00DivaCee

      Just want to point out, the country was NOT actually “built by Christians”. It was based on the belief that there is a freedom to exercise your religion, despite what it may be. For instance, Under God was added to the Pledge in the ’50s as a show against Communism. Same with the addition to money. Get it right and don’t use God to justify your hate. Last time I checked, no sin is greater than another so being gay isn’t any worse than any sin you’ve committed.

      • Dan

        It was on coins since the Civil War. Check on my response to your latter comment.

      • Heather

        I don’t think being gay is any worse than any other sin. It actually probably has a lot less of a domino effect than other sins. That being said, a sin is a sin and if we give in to murder, if we give in to abusing our parents’ love, if we give in to one commandment, why not give in to others? A sin is a sin. We don’t get to decide which ones are okay because we all of a sudden know wand care about someone who is sinning. They all have their ways of catching up with us. In this case, sure, get “married” but don’t expect others to hand you their tax dollars as if you are actually married in the sense that marriage is intended.

    • John
      • Agent00DivaCee

        Forgive me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t America officially founded after the American Revolution. When we became the United States of America and they wrote that pesky Constitution, including the First Amendment? Nice try, A for effort, but we are NOT a Christian country no matter what your ilk thinks.

        • Dan

          There is a reason the Constitution was written the way it was. If the majority of our founding fathers were Jewish or Muslim’s we have different laws…..sharia law for example. Cheat on your husband under our law, nothing happens. Sharia law, the wife’s father/brother have to kill her to keep their family’s honor.

    • charles

      sorry, but our country wasn’t built by christians at all..the foreigners that landed here, owed their masters the price of the fare to this land and had to farm it and show a profit..it had nothinbg to do with christianity..it was pure greed of the aristocrats of europe and the serfs that had to work for them, and later they used blacks to built this country andthose were not at all christians….if they have a right to a civil union, they have a right to benefits!!

      • mark
    • Todd Sawasky
    • No name

      and you are sadly mistaken if you think there are no gay Christians. Quit being so narrow minded and quit interpreting a book written by more narrow minded men to fit THEIR needs.


    I believe that the Military is in error. If they are now going to allow Gays in the military, then they should know that one of the things that will come of this would be the marriage of Gays to one another. It would be very simple to re-state the definition of “marriage” to mean “the “legal” marriage of on “person” to another. Then, if Guys are married to one another, legally, in the State that they happen to be in, they would be entitled to the benefits. If they are legally married and the military allows them to be together, even tho they are Gay, then the military has no right to withhold benefits from them. Get on he ball Department of Defense and Commander in Chief.

    • Matt

      It is neither the DOD not the CiC that is the problem. The problem is the Defense of Mariage Act. It is a federal law that neither the DOD nor the CiC can simply ignore legally. The fix is for Congress to change the law.

    • Harner09

      Don’t be so naive……gays have always served right along side heterosexuals. One’s sexual orientation does not dictate them to be a second class citizen. It’s time to get out of the stone ages. I was raised in the church, but realize that the bible was written THOUSANDS of years ago, and times change, things evolve. Closed minded people need to get a slap of reality….it’s highly likely that someone in your personal circle of life is gay, and they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about it because of your closed minded views. You are missing out!

    • Oma-9405

      This has nothing to do with DOMA. The service member is responsible for maintaing records, DD93 and SGLV8286, for the purpose of notifying preferred individuals in the case of emergency, including death. When the member is RESPONSIBLE and keeps the information current, the Service is able to follow the instructions provided. Unfortunately, based on 20+ years as a military personnel administrator in both active and reserve components, it is not uncommon for members NOT to complete their annual review OR to update as changes occur, particularly with reservists. This is all about whether the service member maintained current records and instructions. Without seeing the records, I’d say she did not. How else does the branch know how to handle the notifications and benefits?

  • Rosalee

    the federal government does not recognize gay marriage…….so not surprised this has happened and
    it will not be the last time…….

    • Lynn

      The federal government is governed by the US Constitution. There is absolutely nothing in the US Constitution stating such, in fact, Amendment Fourteen shoots down your bogus theory because marriage is, and always has been, government by the States. Thing is, the States MUST abide by the US Constitution as well, and under Amendment 14 they cannot abridge nor deny the rights of individuals, whereas all laws must be applied EQUALLY, including marriage (see Loving v. Virginia). Those who are gay pay taxes, and if a marriage receives any form of benefit derived by taxes then ALL married citizens must receive those benefits equally, period. This is not a racial, gay or straight issue, its a Constitutional one that prior citizens fought for so YOU could enjoy marital benefits that were once denied to Indians, blacks and white women for most of America’s history (see abolition, suffrage and civil right movements). Like they say…”those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” BIG Sigh.

  • jfleming

    All soldiers entering the services must fill out NOK form. This is one of the forms on checklist before deploying. And soldier must fill out A Living Will with a Jag Officer before deploying. I would talk with a Jag officer and have them locate these forms. If they find these forms,they will answer alot of questions. And if the forms can’t be found,the Jag officer will know what too do.

    • armyvet

      She cannot put her wife because the forms only allow blood relatives and federally recognized spouses to be notified in case of death. You can select anyone to receive your body and monetary benefits. These are three different categories have have different rules of who you can list.

      • CAO

        not true, you can request notification of other than NOK on the form. many do request this for reasons of ill parents, no parents or siblings, etc. the forms she filled out prior to deployment dictate who is notified, who gets the SGLI, the death benefits etc. you may completely exclude all family and relatives, your spouse and kids……ultimately it is up to the SERVICE MEMBER and the Army must follow what is written.

        • armyvet

          No, you are incorrect. Here is the form linked below- where can death notification be specified as other than blood family or federally recognized marriage?

          • armyvet

            Additionally the long term spousal benefits are not the same as those mentioned on Form 93.

  • hismilitarywife

    This is the same as the gay female couple that complained they didn’t get paternity leave when one had a baby. The military has changed it’s outlook but it can’t break the law. There were plenty of things in the paperwork that can be set to whomever you want and apparently she didn’t do that. As for marriage I disagree… Maybe someday the federal law will recognize a union but to call it marriage is offensive. Although I can understand the frustration I do not think that our war torn, budget cut military, is ready to take on the task of legal unions and same sex marriages. There are too many changes right now that are threatening the seams of our service. In.another decade it should be reevaluated.

    • Luke

      Too bad; Equality doesn’t have to come at a convenient time, it just has to come Period.

    • ArmyVet

      You cannot choose a same sex partner for your next of kin notification if you are dead. The only choices are legal federally defined spouse or blood family. So no, it isn’t that she “didn’t do that” it is that the law discriminates against her.

      If you don’t want gay people to have access to “marriage” stop allowing “marriage” to received legal benefits from the government. If it is given by the government (and legal benefits of marriage are) it is ruled by the Constitution, not your Bible.

    • usparatrooper129
    • Agent00DivaCee

      One: Marriage is not by rights a religious institution and certainly not a Christian one. It existed before Christianity, so calling a marriage isn’t wrong. Next of all, the military is one of the few venues of government that isn’t budget cut…

      • Dan

        The DOMA defends the definition of Marriage, in short, man and woman. It’s like calling a plane, a car. “Well it’s a car (the plane) and I have a driver’s license so I can fly it.” No, it’s still a plane.

    • Reg Strong

      Furst of all, why would a gay girl be having a baby if she’s gay? Make up your mind. Gay or not.

    • Heather

      union makes total sense. I respect gays as much as they respect straights. We’re all people. We have more in common than we have to differ. but a union and a marriage are different things and I think it is fair to treat them differently.

  • Logic_Mine

    Wow, kinda like the Federal Tort Claims ACT (FTCA) that does NOT allow you to sue Military Medical Doctors for MALPRACTICE.

    Imagine you are active duty and die in the operating room for a simple gall bladder operation carelessly performed by an inept surgeon. NO LEGAL RECOURSE…BY LAW!

    What kind of person or persons would think of such a law? LOW LIFES and SUB-HUMANS that’s what kind.

    • No the dead person cannot sue, but if my spouse dies on that table, she being the active duty member and I’m just the veteran husband then yes I can sue. Have already had this discussion with both legal and several docs at the hospital.

    • Scott

      The FTCA specifically prevents active duty personnel from suing other active duty personnel (UCMJ handles that) however as a dependent / civil employee litigation is a viable avenue yet is based on the circumstances – consult legal advise.

    • Arno

      Yes and we keep reelecting them.

  • redprincess

    It always hurts when someone you love is taken from you. Maybe this will make other gay couple look at their paperwork and wills more closely to ensure their wishes are clearly stated.

    MARRIAGE is between a man and a woman. Gay couples need to come up with their own word describing their relationship – because it is nor marriage…marriage is taken. Just like naming a new species “cat” would be wrong – we already have a cat and we all know what is is.

    So gay couples need their own word, maybe one word for lesibians and one for homosexuals – that could clarify relationships more easily. For instance, “we were lovebonded” in January….or We had our “lifelinking ceremony” last spring.,

    • guest

      Language is human created and human curated, contrary to your statement. Therefore marriage means whatever we as a society decides it means.

      • Dan

        society, per DOMA, has decided it means man and woman

    • armyVet

      You cannot choose a same sex partner for your next of kin notification if you are dead. The only choices are legal federally defined spouse or blood family. So no, it isn’t that she “didn’t fill out paperwork” it is that the law discriminates against her.

      If you don’t want gay people to have access to “marriage” stop allowing “marriage” to received legal benefits from the government. If it is given by the government (and legal benefits of marriage are) it is ruled by the Constitution, not your Bible.

    • William

      The word “marriage” has been used for heterosexual, monogamous relationships, polyandrous, polygynous, and fully polygamous relationships since it was first coined. Denying those usages is just burying your head in the sand. In addition, today, the laws refer to “marriage” to define the legal rights and responsibilities. “Civil Unions” and “partnerships” do not confer those same rights. Maybe churches need to coin a new word to refer to church-performed, church-sanctioned, biblically-compliant marriages, instead? As original Battlestar Galactica put it, “Sealed together”? Even kids watching it understood what that meant when it was used.

    • Concerned Army

      I don’t think you should comment on things that you obviously do not understand nor do they affect you. It doesnt hurt anyone if they gays get married, all it means it that more love is in the world and they are seeking equal treatment. Is it so wrong for people that love eachother to share health care, to recieve survivers benefits, to be able to live an accepted life? Also, just for your information so that you sound a bit more in the know…a homosexual is the generalized category that lesbian and gay fall under. Think about it!__What is so wrong with providing equal rights for everyone?__

    • Agent00DivaCee

      The word “marriage” derives from Middle English mariage, which first appears in 1250–1300 CE This in turn is derived from Old French marier (to marry) and ultimately Latin marītāre meaning to provide with a husband or wife and marītāri meaning to get married. (The adjective marīt-us -a, -um meaning matrimonial or nuptial could also be used in the masculine form as a noun for “husband” and in the feminine form for “wife.”[11] The related word “matrimony” derives from the Old French word matremoine which appears around 1300 CE and ultimately derives from Latin mātrimōnium which combines the two concepts mater meaning “mother” and the suffix -monium signifying “action, state, or condition.” “[12]

      Nowhere in there does it say that marriage is strictly a man or woman. The Bible says that, but it also says that we shouldn’t eat shrimp, get tattoos, or wear cotton poly blends.

  • Doc_Block

    There are good and bad posts here, but the victim is in the article. “Marriage” is a sacrament of the church that the Government recognizes and allows individuals certain rights and privileges. That being said, the government can’t “marry” people as is done in the court house. This is not a Gay/Straight issue, ceremonies performed outside the church should be civil unions regardless of the sex of the parties involved. I “married” my wife in the courthouse, we are man and wife, but I believe it should be termed a civil union, because it was a legal contract before a judge. Benefits should be extended to gay and lesbian couples under the same premise but cannot be called marriage. The term marriage originated in and is essentially owned by the church, and the efforts to use THAT term is getting in the way of extending the rights to deserving couples. I would love to hear feedback.

    • grunt

      Which church owns the word marriage? With the variety of religious beliefs out there who determines it? I think that it is a valid term for any permanently legally established union. Words have power and people of all natures will defend words that they believe they have a right too. But no one owns a word, unless maybe it is trademarked :).

      I think a better question is why we are willing to fight so determined a scorched earth campaign to prevent someone from using “our” word for “their” meaning. In the English language, American version, we corrupt and change words more than some people change hairstyles. Why the decision to fight to the death over this one. Given the level of adultery and divorce in this nation, defending the sanctity of the word “marriage” is kind of hypocritical in my opinion.

      Is a word worth a life? Is it worth destroying a life? Are we so devoid of soul that all we cherish are the words instead of the Meaning of the words?

    • armyvet

      If you don’t want gay people to have access to “marriage” stop allowing “marriage” to received legal benefits from the government. If it is given by the government (and legal benefits of marriage are) it is ruled by the Constitution, not your Bible. It isn’t up to gay people to change that, it is up to the religious to extricate the word “marriage” from the current legal recognition it holds.

      • Nathan

        Government gave a benefit to married people, not the church.
        Why do we defend sin? Is not same sex relations a sin?
        Have you ever noticed that almost all religions ( that I know anyway ) have 1 main “God” ( or whatever )
        This country was built on God, Guns, and Guts. We have gone so far that we don’t have the guts ( or guns if this nonsense goes on ) to defend GOD.
        If you are unhappy with how this great nation is run, Vote or get on a boat. Live somewhere else.

        • armyvet

          This nation was built on the Constitution and had many founders that were not religious. You are misinformed. “Sin” had no place in this conversation unless the Constitution has a ban on “sin”.

          I will try one more time; if you do not like the fact that government sponsored marriage and the associated legal benefits are increasingly being granted to gay people, then the church and religious people should petition the government to no longer use the word marriage for any couple- gay or straight. But until time that you do that, the burden is not on gay people to remain outside the legal benefits just because you dont like that the government uses the word marriage.

    • MLStrand

      If Marriage is a “sacrament of the church”, Why do you need a Govermnent License to get married?

    • Bobby Johnson

      Agree completely. Marriage is a religious event. Different churches different ceremonies. All joining of partners for civil purposes should be civil unions. This has bugged me for years. What about “common law” marriages? They can be together for years also.

  • grunt

    Adultery is a sin Nathan and we catch people doing it all the time but we do not persecute them the same way we do gay/lesbian.

    Ask a better question, Why do you care if gay and lesbian couples have the ability to claim each other as dependents? How does it affect or harm you? It doesn’t. It can’t. But because you and those like you are afraid of your own level of sin, you feel all morally empowered to attack others.

    I don’t care if your bible says it is a sin or not. Why are you morally outraged at one Particular sin your bible talks about instead of ALL OF THEM? Hypocrite.

    • DonM

      So tell me the name of someone persecuted for being gay/lesbian. I have not heard of one lately.

      By contrast, Petraeus lost his job for adultery, and deservedly so.

      If you don’t have a name for the person ‘we’ have persecuted, then you are a liar and a Hypocrite.

    • Guest

      That’s because you lack sound wisdom.

    • Heather

      Was it really necessary to call this person a hypocrite? You made a very valid point then followed it up with that? And many Christians do believe that adultery should be punished. And it will be. Just like lies and other sins.

  • dave

    Marriage is not only a sacrament of the chgurch as it is apporved by the government and can be performed by any officail given the power to do so by the state. I have been married twice, once by a JO and the other by a district judge. Or are you trying to say that no matter who you are if you were not married in a churuch you are not really married?

    • Guest

      If your first wife is alive, you live in sin. You can only have one wife at a time until she die or you.

      • grunt

        Not according to the King James version of the Bible. But then, that is why there is a King James version.

  • Trevin

    The DADT Repeal was just to get a foot in the door. The remaining changes for legally recognized marriages will come soon. I saw this stuff coming in a couple of years back. I knew that once a homosexual would be allowed to be in and not have to hide it, “legally”, anyway, that the other rights would have to be addressed at some point,…and it will.

    • Guest

      May be to man, but not in eyes of God the creator of marriage.

  • Trevin

    Regardless of how passionate religious people are, (regardless of their faith), changes are being made. Right or Wrong is just simply a perception of the masses, which are controlled by a plethora of factors. Personally, I can’t really relate to homosexuality. And I know that my inability to understand this phenomena isn’t my,…”choice”. It’s just the way I’m wired, I like women. So I really believe that the homosexual community probably hasn’t, “chosen” their turn-on’s either.

    • bob

      Trevin. I agree with your comments. The gays do have a little ‘tick’ that is different from all the ‘straight’ people. The problem is what do you do about it? They are of a different problem. When it was a white person wanting to marry a black or oriental person that was a different problem. At least they were male/female. Now you have a different problem where this is a little ‘untasteful’ to many in our society because of the same sex issue.

      I believe the answer is that when they discover their unusual circumstances that they need not act upon it. They keep their secret desires to themselves and not feel the need to advertize it to all the world. DADT worked very well in the military. There was no need to have that changed except that the ‘courts’ saw a need. That need by the ‘courts’ is something that will haunt us in the future. The ‘courts’ seem to want to make everyone fair, every ‘thing’ fair and that will never be.

    • vocalvarieties

      There’s part of of the problem there. Right or Wrong isn’t really Right or Wrong, it’s how you FEEL about it. Using that logic we should give the recent shooters a break because they FELT it was right to do what they did.

  • Trevin

    Straight or Gay, one’s sexuality has no place in the work place, so a homosexual disposition shouldn’t come in to play on duty anyway. Anyone who is trying to be in a committed relationship, “legally married”, trying to raise families, should be entitled to receive the benefits that are offered to Soldiers, regardless of being straight or gay,…only my opinion.

    • Guest

      That’s right only your opinion. What about the opinion of God who made woman for man?

  • arty278

    As a 25 year married veteran I can see both sides of this argument, yes partners should get benefits that is a given, however; if it was as simple as declaring that you are a couple, be it male/male female/female male/female and obtaining benefits then you would have “couples” throughout the military getting together just to get the added benefits that come with it and that will overburden the system to the point that it will erode benefits for the married/life couples. It’s not the military that makes those rules it is congress, the military enforces the rules.

    • armyvet

      They are not trying to make it as simple as declaring two people are a “couple”, they want their marriage, which are legal in multiple states, to be recognized by the federal government.

    • Bobby Johnson

      Frankly, who decides you have to be in love to receive benefits? SIngle folks are second class citizens no matter how much rank you get.

  • Arty278

    Why do people speak of the military as an entity? It has no life, it can’t make up rules. Until federal laws are changed to include these same sex relationhips and makes it a binding contract just like “marrage” then nothing can change. If a “married” military couple seperate/divorce then the spouce is entitled to certin benefits and it is a process to make the legal seperation and that is as it should be, and until same sex unions have the same binding contracts then again nothing can change. I have empathy for the couple in the article but everyone should stop blaming the “military” and pay attention to what their local congressperson represents and make their voice heard on election days!

    • armyvet

      That is true to an extent- but- the “military” is an agency with a whole hell of a lot of influence. They could could use that influence to make sure their soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors, coasties, and their families were taken care of.

  • bob

    Let me see if I can make a comment before I continue.

  • anewhosea

    I am sorry that some people are confused about the definition of marriage. Despite many opinions, something is-what it is. Perhaps this couple had a relationship or a deep friendship. I do not care to know if they engaged in sexual practices. This is not my, or society’s business. Neither is it the business of this Nation to start paying benefits for self-defined or abnormal definitions of marriage. Thousands of years have passsed where marriage was nearly always defined as being between a man and a woman. Please understand that I think the Service Member should have saved money in a retirement account if this person was dependent upon the Service Member’s continuing support. I feel society and the military have no obligation to begin the vast, vast expense of paying benefits to anyone seeking them on a strange basis as this. They were not married. They should not be granted benefits as married individuals receive. A small group of people continue to press this issue and have gained support with others. They have gained no support with me for the recognition of non-traditional marriages. They simply are not married.

    • Lynn

      It is you who is confused about marriage. Marriage in the US falls under “contract law” has always been governed by the States. There have always been laws/rules that our society changed as it evolved and accepted PERSONAL FREEDOM over slavery. Read up on Loving v. Virginia, this when the Supreme Court ruled that the States could not disenfranchise citizens through miscegenation (whites marrying other races) under the Fourteenth Amendment. This is no different, whereby, ALL CITIZENS must have and receive the same benefits as all others, period. FYI, marriage has been practiced through many different forms of rites and ceremonies long before religion and civilization came into existence.

      • Heather

        Oh, Well, good for them. This is America though and it has been decided that as a whole, gay marriage is not marriage. States can do what they want, but my husband serves America, not any one particular state in particular.

    • Agent00DivaCee

      Actually, that’s not true. Gay marriage predates the Christianity:
      Same-sex marriage
      Main article: Same-sex marriage
      Many advocates of same-sex marriage, such as this protester at a demonstration in New York City against California Proposition 8, reject the notion of civil unions.[69]

      Various types of same-sex marriages have existed,[70] ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions.[71]

      While it is a relatively new practice to grant same-sex couples the same form of legal marital recognition as commonly granted to mixed-sex couples, there is some history of recorded same-sex unions around the world.[72] It is believed that same-sex unions were celebrated in Ancient Greece and Rome,[72] some regions of China, such as Fujian, and at certain times in ancient European history.[73] A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) issued in 342 CE imposed severe penalties or death on same-sex marriage in ancient Rome[74] but the exact intent of the law and its relation to social practice is unclear, as only a few examples of same-sex marriage in that culture exist.[75]

      • Heather

        It also used to be legal to rape in Rome. It also used to be legal to own slaves here. Just because something has happened and was legal at the time, doesn’t mean it is what is right.

  • WR Small

    in this case how do you know a widower from a widow ? and is there a difference in benifit ?

  • James

    Sad thing is , this woman cannot get a 100k plus death benefit, but we can get a few new virginia class subs and raptors. whiskey tango foxtrot.

  • Kienhoa68

    If we were not bringing discomfort to those around us, based on ideology, just what would we do with ourselves? Indeed many thrive on it.
    Just as it seems fitting for this venue to use it to achieve some purpose through implication.

  • Real World

    guess if they where Senators- lots of money to her.

  • Ronald J. Marshall

    There seems to be a lot of confusion between “government benefits” and SGLI. A service member can name anyone their beneficiary of their SGLi, but law determines who is eligible for “government benefits” like DIC, Survivors Educational benfits, etc. The deceased service person should have named her partner as the beneficiary of her SGLI and could hve purchased other life insurance. At any rate, they, the couple in question should have gone into their “marriage” knowing that they would not be entitled to “government benefits” in the event of one of their deaths in service. This should be a wake up call to others in simular circumstances.

    • armyvet

      Ron, great information, BUT they did know. The wife is sharing her story so that this discrimination will end.

      • 17 year Army Wife

        How is her partner not listing her as POC and beneficiary of her SGLI discrimination? That was up to the SM and if she failed to do that then it is on her shoulder’s – not the government.

        As for the government benefits, I agree, that should be changed. But as Mr. Marshall stated, they should have gone into their marriage fully aware that those benefits would not be handed over at this time.

  • kimberly

    sexual orientation is irrelevant. What is written and signed on the paperwork is all that matters. All military members need to take responsibility for their “families”, whoever they are. Both these women had rank and knew what was clearly their responsibility..

    • armyvet

      Kim, you are incorrect. The dead soldier you so callously demand take responsibility could not specify her wife as the beneficiary of the long term spousal benefits that straight service members automatically get. DOMA bars this. Also, DD Form 93 doesn’t allow her wife to be notified in case of her death.

      Here is the form http://www.armygold.pdx.edu/docs/DDF93.pdf

  • MLStrand

    Make Bronco Bamma settle this one. Then the whole USA will know his Anti-Military sentiments!

    • A Chief

      MLStrand, I’ve served for 20 years and so far I’ve seen no anti-military sentiments from this Commander in Chief, just as I did not from his predecessor. On what grounds do you consider him to be “anti-military”? I suspect you just say that because it’s what you’ve heard on Fox or from someone you admire…

      • TimRR

        The only way your not seeing it is because you don’t want to. I see it as does everyone that I am currently serving with, and the ones who support him just try to justify it. What military did you serve in? Canadian?

  • Old Squid

    If they were legally married in a state that recognizes same sex marriages then, logic would dictate that the “full faith and credit” clause of the constitution would require that she receives the appropriate death benefits. I am not a lawyer nor do I claim to have any legal education. I’m just a DA Kansas farmboy that can read.

  • janice

    you still have to fill out the benefits paperwork when you enlist if it was not updated the spouse receives nothing unless the family gives it to them It was up to the service member to make sure the paperwork was in order not the military they are briefed on this before deployment of any kind

  • 17 year Army Wife

    You can absolutely put anyone down for your SGLI. And as you emergency contact.

    As for the flag, I have been to a few military funerals including one in which the fiance of the fallen soldier was given a flag IN ADDITION TO his mother. All you have to do is ask, they will not say no to such a request at a funeral.

    This article is nothing more than a means to stir people up without stating all the facts

    • Scott

      Ma’am, More than one flag can be presented upon request, the catch is that only one will be supplied by the service (read government) any more must be provided by the family, Wardroom/ Officers Mess, SNCO, NCO or CPO association(s) then presented in the ceremony. Which I am all for! Thank you for pointing this out, it is hard to get all things in order when dealing with the loss of ones dearest!
      Regards, Scotty

  • Scott

    The loss of a loved one can never be replaced. My most sincere condolences to her spouse and family.
    Unfortunately I feel that the failure (or loss) of benefits is solely based on who the service member chose as their beneficiary ( i.e. the Primary Next of Kin -PNOK, Secondary Next of Kin – SNOK, Person Authorized to Direct Disposition of the Remains – PDD, and SGLI beneficiary). Once you set them this dictates who can and is eligible for the notification/benefits. Note to all active duty personnel – keep your house in order and update every PCS and Deployment(address change) or change in who you want to receive notification/benefits.
    Again to the spouse and family my personal condolences and grateful thanks for her service to my country!

  • Scott

    Although the military has yet to recognize or put in place policy for same sex marriage/union. As I stated above (PNOK, SNOK, ADD & SGLI) all these things are individually controlled by the service member.

  • Scott

    Couple of errors in my comments: PDD and ADD both = PADD (Person Authorized to Direct Disposition or Remains), and according to the DDF-93 must be a family member or parentis…legalese. Still not acted upon by the DOD of Federal Gov.

  • TimRR

    Marriage is the holy unity of a man and woman. If they aren’t married or blood relation then there is no benifits. Every military member knows this. Where is the problem?

  • patrick powell

    It breaks the heart to hear about people getting” married” (living together) to the same sex . Last time I read in the good book, correct me if I am wrong, “Marriage is a Godly accord between a Man and a Woman ” period. No if, and , but , about it.
    What if everyone in the world were gay , the human race as we know it would wither away. !!!

  • It’s the responsibility of the service person to ensure the paperwork is In place for their loved one. I know a hetero spouse who had the same thing happen. Her husband hadn’t changed the N.O.K. or SGLI beneficiary. His dad(whom he hadn’t spoken to in months) got the notice and she found out through the grape vine a week later. And he kept the SGLI. It’s awful but it happens.