California military veterans who graduated from West Point, that nation's oldest army post that has remained in continuous operation, may be interested to know that two same-sex weddings were performed at the chapel on that base, marking what some see-for better of for worse-as new era for the military academy. These marriage were legal under the laws of the state in which West Point is located.
With the advent of same-sex marriage in several states now, as well as the end of any restrictions on same-sex couples serving in the military, both those in the military and the civilian world need to understand how so-called "gay marriage" will affect military divorce.
In California, the status of gay marriage is in flux, with the United Supreme Court planning to hear arguments on the issue soon. Other states have flat out barred gay marriage, sometimes by amendments to a state's constitution.
However, for military couples with a legal marriage who seek divorce, presumably a state court would divide their property just it would the property of any other married couple, although certainly that is an open question of law at this time. In any event, though, federal laws currently prevent same-sex married couples from enjoying the same military benefits that opposite-sex couples would, including survivor benefits.
Despite any state law to the contrary, federal law prohibits the military from recognizing a same-sex marriage. Whether this is right or wrong, it is important for California residents to be aware of the fact that at the end of a long-term same-sex relationship, one partner may forfeit important benefits that a divorcing spouse would receive in an opposite-sex marriage.
Source: Time, "Families matter in our military, all families," Jonathan Hopkins, Dec. 10, 2012