Press Releases

Just one day after House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith’s reintroduction of the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET), the legislation has received support from several organizations and 43 Members of Congress.  Additionally, today Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act.  Below are statements of support for MSET.  

Allyson Robinson, executive director of Outserve-SLDN:
“Treating service members equally, without partiality or favoritism, is one of the most basic principles of sound military leadership... Today, we thank Congressman Smith for taking this crucial step to strengthen our military, and we urge his colleagues in both parties and in both houses of Congress to join him and us in this important fight.” Link to Statement

Human Rights Campaign Legislative Director Allison Herwitt:
“Gay and lesbian service members and their families make sacrifices every day.  We owe them the same measure of support that other service members receive.  We commend Congressman Adam Smith for his leadership to address this inequity in federal law.” Link to Blog
Fact Sheet

Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress:
“The Defense of Marriage Act harms our military families and compromises our military readiness. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made clear that there is no room for discrimination in the ranks when he extended a number of benefits to same-sex military spouses earlier this week, and now members of Congress like Rep. Smith and Sens. Gillibrand and Shaheen are adding their voices to the fight for full equality in our country’s armed forces. This is an issue of fairness but—just as importantly—it is an issue of military readiness and it must be addressed promptly.” Link to Statement

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH):
“All service members deserve complete recognition  for their service and sacrifice, and that means benefits for them and their loved ones. Right now we don’t have equality in service for LGBT individuals, and I am committed to doing everything to fix that. We’ve made progress, but we’re not done yet and the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act is a needed fix to getting all military families the benefits they have earned.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY):
“This legislation is an important step forward in achieving full equality for all of our men and women serving and fighting for our nation.  Same-sex partners of military servicemembers should not be denied essential benefits because of who they are. We must ensure that all of our military families who have sacrificed so much have access to the services and treatment they need and deserve.”

Representative Gwen Moore (WI-4):
“As those in the military fight for justice and equality, it is egregious that those they love are denied benefits that they should be entitled to. If a state has recognized marriage for all, then our military should not stand in the way.”

Representative John Garamendi (CA-3):
“Gay and lesbian military personnel serve with equal valor and distinction, and their spouses deserve equal benefits and protections… It’s really that simple. I’m proud to cosponsor Ranking Member Smith’s Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act, and we owe it to our brave men and women in uniform and their families to give this the up or down vote it deserves.”

Representative Mark Pocan (WI-2):
“Supporting our servicemen and women and our veterans also means supporting their spouses and families, whose sacrifices often go unseen and unrecognized. This support should not be contingent on whether a member of our military is gay or straight” Link to Statement

Representative Jim McDermott (WA-7):
“Military spouses take the same risks, pass the same sleepless nights, and give the same critical support, no matter their gender. The least we can do is give their families the dignity and respect of equal benefits.”

Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1):
”We owe every member of our armed forces a tremendous debt for their service, sacrifice, and bravery.  Our commitment to honoring them as outstanding Americans must include recognizing their spouses and families—regardless of sexual orientation.” Link to Statement

Representative Annie Kuster (NH-2):
“Every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine deserves to know that the American people will always support their families, no matter who they love.”

Representative Adam Schiff (CA-28):
“This important legislation would make sure that all service members and their spouses receive the same opportunities, benefits and services. All spouses in the military – regardless of orientation – put up with tremendous hardships, and it’s time we recognize their contribution and sacrifice with true equality.”

Representative Denny Heck (WA-10):
“All families serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and all veterans living in the South Puget Sound deserve equal protection under the law. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act.”

On February 14, 2013, Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET), a bill that would ensure equal benefits for all military spouses and equal standing for all military families. By changing the definition of “spouse” in the relevant sections of the U.S. code, MSET would require the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state or the District of Columbia, and provide equal benefits to all spouses.

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Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith reintroduced H.R. 683, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, legislation that is designed to ensure equal benefits for all military spouses and equal standing for all military families.  

“Despite the Department of Defense making strides towards equality in the military, there is more that must be done to ensure that the rights of all servicemembers and their spouses are protected, regardless of who they are married to,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith.  “This bill would make sure that servicemembers and veterans with same-sex spouses receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.  All spouses of those serving in our Armed Services make tremendous sacrifices for our country, and no one should be prevented from receiving hard-earned benefits simply because they are the same sex as their partner.”

Secretary Panetta’s recent efforts to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of servicemembers is a significant step forward, but the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs remain very limited in what benefits they provide to same-sex spouses.  Some benefits that could not be provided through Secretary Panetta’s regulatory changes include medical and dental care, dependent-rate housing allowances, survivor benefits, cost of living allowances, and protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013 fixes this discriminatory practice by changing the definition of “spouse” in the relevant sections in the United States code to read: “an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place in which the marriage was entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”

This change will require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state or the District of Columbia and provide the same benefits to the spouses of all service members.

Link to bill here.
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement regarding the economy in the President’s State of the Union Address:

“The most pressing challenges our country faces are creating jobs and charting a responsible path towards fiscal security.  This starts with Congress eliminating sequestration, but it also includes passing long-term federal budgets that lift the crippling uncertainty destined to devastate our economy.

“Tonight, the President laid out the right steps to move towards economic certainty by taking a balanced approach of increasing revenues and reducing spending, making it clear that we cannot simply cut our way to prosperity.  As the President highlighted, it is critical that we make investments in education and clean energy, as well as comprehensive reforms to our immigration system that ensures that bright minds and driven workers are coming to our country to expand job opportunities and strengthen the economy.

“The time is now for Congress to make difficult choices and find long-term solutions that provide economic stability and reduce our national deficits.  We must agree to solutions that eliminate the threat of sequestration, and provides the federal government, and the economy, with the certainty they need to move forward.  I will work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to provide new job opportunities and immediate economic growth while finding long-term solutions to our fiscal situation.

The Peace Corps announced that Seattle University ranks fifth nationally among small colleges and universities in terms of alumni currently serving as volunteers.  Washington state also took the number one spot in all three categories of small, medium, and large undergraduate schools with Gonzaga, Western Washington, and the University of Washington having the most alumni currently volunteering in the Peace Corps.

“Congratulations to Seattle University for ranking fifth in the Peace Corps rankings for small colleges and universities,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “The Peace Corps is a great program that has made a remarkable impact around the world in areas desperately in need of basic services, health care, education facilities, and more.  Volunteers demonstrate the true goodwill spirit of the American people and are an important part of American diplomacy and our international development efforts.  It speaks volumes about Seattle University and other Washington state schools that so many alumni have joined the Peace Corps and made significant contributions to communities across the globe.”

Every year, the Peace Corps ranks Top Colleges based on size of the school.  Small schools have less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium schools have between 5,000 and 15,000 and large schools have over 15,000 undergraduate students.  This year’s rankings are calculated based on Fiscal Year 2012 data.  See the full Peace Corps Press Release here.

 House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement to commemorate Black History Month:

“As we celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of the great achievements African-Americans both past and present have made to help shape the fabric of our nation.  Throughout history, African-Americans have been remarkable inventors, philosophers, statesmen, writers, and leaders in our community. While Black History Month inspires us to recognize the vast number of achievements of African-Americans, we should continue to incorporate Black history in our schools’ American history curriculum year-round.  
 
“In the face of our nation’s most disgraceful moments, from slavery to segregation, African-Americans have showed incredible leadership, determination, and commitment in fighting for equality that has benefitted millions of Americans.  We should take the lessons of the past to advance our society beyond the oppression, prejudice, and hate that continues to plague our country. While our nation struggles to solve unemployment rates, bring our public schools to a competitive standard, mend our broken healthcare model, and fix our judiciary system, we must recognize that African-Americans are disproportionately affected when we fail to do so. As a nation, it is critical that we ensure every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status has an equal opportunity to succeed.”