Costs for killing DOMA ‘unknown’
Expert on military readiness says budget’s burden for benefits will explode
After the ruling Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that all benefits given to military spouses would now be extended to same-sex couples.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said the “ruling will have immediate consequences in America’s armed forces, which employ personnel from all states and grant extensive marriage benefits under federal law.”
Donnelly said the U.S. military budget will be under pressure because of the Supreme Court’s actions, but it is hard to calculate how much.
“No one has estimated what the impact will be,” said Donnelly, “especially during a time when sequestration cuts, large and small, are affecting military families worldwide.”
DOMA was passed in 1996 by a bipartisan majority in Congress and signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton. It specified that where federal law was concerned, “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
The Supreme Court this week ruled the definition an unconstitutional violation of “equal rights.”
The sequester cuts have already disproportionately affected the defense budget. Fifty percent of the cuts prescribed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 came from defense even though it is less than one-fifth of the federal budget.