A military couple's life after DOMA
The Unitarian Universalist church in North Andover holds a special place in Margaret Weis' heart. She grew up in it. She got married in it. And now she's studying to be a minister because of what she learned in it.
"Love knows no gender," she says standing next to the altar where she said her vows two years ago.
But gender has made Margaret's life as a military wife much different than others.
"The military considered her single because our marriage wasn't acknowledged " she said about her wife, Susan Weis, an Air Force reservist.
Last year, Susan was deployed to Afghanistan. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, Margaret couldn't be listed as her wife's next of kin, she wasn't allowed an ID to go to the military base in the US, and she didn't get separation pay.
"So in a week of preparing for her to go, which was emotionally a nightmare in and of itself," Weis said. "To then have just reminder after reminder that we were legally not protected as a couple."
Even after Susan came home, that reminder persisted as Margaret couldn't be on her wife's health insurance or file joint taxes. That is, until Wednesday, when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA.
"I guess I never really felt like I was a full military wife until yesterday," said Weis, choking up.
The decision means Susan and Margaret are eligible for 1,100 federal benefits they had previously been denied.
"The biggest thing for me is the fact that if she were to get deployed again, and if something happened to her, I would be able to be the first person to know and I would be taken care of, and that's no small thing."
And there will be no small celebrations when Susan returns home from an annual tour in North Carolina on Sunday.
"These people who volunteer to serve this country have been denied the same rights that they're fighting for people to have," said Weis. "It's amazing that we've taken such a big step forward."