WASHINGTON (WAVY) - With the Supreme Court's ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, things will change all over the country, including the military.
There are more than one thousand same-sex couples in the military. The court's decision means all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, will have the same benefits, including medical, dental and allowance for housing. These are benefits Tracey Johnson would give anything to have had when her wife Donna died in 2012.
Donna was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Although the pair was married, Johnson was not the first to be notified of her wife's death and wasn't eligible for any survivors' benefits, including receiving the flag from Donna's casket.
"Probably the most painful thing of all of it was when the death certificate came back, it said ‘single' and that was probably the most brutal blow, because we weren't," Johnson said.
Now, same-sex military spouses will be treated like other married couples serving the country. But while some are okay with extending those benefits, that doesn't necessarily mean they believe in same-sex marriage.
"You know, the implications are -- what will stop anybody from marrying their dog, their sister... ?", said Bishop Anne Gimenez, the pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach.
Gimenez vehemently opposes same-sex marriage, but is not against providing equal privileges to same-sex couples in the military without requiring a marriage certificate.
"Legalize whatever benefits they want. Let ‘em have ‘em. But don't say it's marriage under God. It's not," said Gimenez.
Secretary of Defense Hagel said Wednesday extending full privileges to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, will be immediate for those legally married.
"We think it's the right decision and we're looking forward to taking that decision and implementing the required next steps," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Wednesday.
Hagel said they will move fast to put the law into action. The Department of Defense did speak about some of the next steps, including issuing military IDs to same-sex spouses.
"I think it's all going to take time, as any change does, and I think it has come leaps and bounds already," said Navy veteran Nicole Carry about the culture and attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
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