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Same-gender married military couples win federal lawsuit

BOSTON -- Judge Richard Stearns of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts today entered judgment in favor of the same-gender married couples who challenged the laws that discriminated against them in the military.

Plaintiffs in the case, McLaughlin v. Hagel, attacked the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and spousal definitions in three other titles of the US Code. They were represented in this case by OutServe-SLDN and the law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP. Even after the Supreme Court's decision in the Windsor case, the defendants argued that the McLaughlin plaintiffs were not entitled to judgment in their case.

Under the terms of the judgment, the plaintiffs may seek DoD and DVA benefits as of the date they sought to register the spouses with DoD in late 2011. Benefits that these families lost include additional housing allowances, family separation pay and health insurance coverage. In addition, the court declared that the definitions of "spouse" in Titles 10, 32 and 38 and of "surviving spouse" in Title 38 are unconstitutional.

"We sought a judgment that would end the unconstitutional discrimination these service members and their families faced. Each of them paid a price for their service, and this judgment begins to right the many years of discrimination, said John Gillespie, OutServe/SLDN co-chair.

"Most importantly, this decision validates the service and sacrifice of all military family members. It guarantees the nation will recognize their contributions and provide the benefits they have earned."

Gillespie said the organization recognizes and thanks the OutServe-SLDN legal team, Aubrey Sarvis, David McKean and John Goodman, as well as pro bono partners at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, especially Abbe Lowell and Christopher Man. "We owe them a debt of gratitude. We also congratulate and thank our clients in the case who bravely stepped forward to assert these rights:"

• Major Shannon McLaughlin, ARNG and Casey McLaughlin

• Major Steve Snyder-Hill, USAR and Joshua Snyder-Hill

• Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Charlie Morgan, ARNG and Karen Morgan

• Lieutenant Gary Ross, USN and Dan Ross

• Lieutenant Colonel Vicki Hudson, USAR and Monika Poxon

• Airman First Class (A1C) Daniel Henderson, USAF and Jerret Henderson

• Captain Joan Darrah, USN (Retired) and Lynne Kennedy

• Colonel Stewart Bornhoft, USA (Retired) and former Lieutenant Stephen McNabb, USN