Stop discriminating against gay and lesbian military servicemembers!
  • Petitioned Stephen Speakes

This petition was delivered to:

Vice President, Enterprise Planning
Stephen Speakes
President, USAA Financial Advice Group
Christopher Claus
Vice President, Corporate Communications
Wendi Strong
Kristi Matus
Vice President, People Services
Shon Manasco
President, P&C Group
Stuart Parker
Joe Robles
Executive Communications at USAA
Vice President, Member Services
Wayne Peacock
President, USAA FSB
David Bohne
General Counsel
Steven Bennett

Stop discriminating against gay and lesbian military servicemembers!

    1. Jason Cabot
    2. Petition by

      Jason Cabot

      Cambridge, MA

April 2013


From Jason Cabot: According to Mike at USAA, "former and surviving spouses of members are now eligible for USAA membership, regardless of whether the relationship is opposite-sex or same-sex." Mike also clarified that "[a] current spouse, opposite- or same-sex, is insured as a family member on the eligible spouse’s auto or property policies. All other USAA products are available to spouses of USAA members, subject to underwriting," and that the recognition applies in all states, and for civil unions and domestic partnerships as well: "it applies when legally recognized spouses, domestic partners and those in civil unions move to other states [where same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships are not recognized]." According to USAA, it will be clarifying this policy on its website. USAA, thank you for doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and treating all committed families, spouses, and partners, equally.

4/2/2013 update:

Victory! According to Mike at USAA (information posted on USAA's facebook page), USAA now recognizes same-sex spouses, and partners in civil unions and domestic partnerships as family members. Apparently, same-sex spouses and partners are now eligible for USAA membership on the same basis as opposite-sex spouses. Additionally, USAA informed me that this recognition of same-sex spouses and partners applies even if the couple has moved to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Finally, USAA states that it will clarify this policy on its website.

USAA, thank you for doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and recognizing all committed families, spouses and partners on the same basis, regardless of sexual orientation.


Update: See below for Q&A. If you sign this petition, please use a real email address or your signature will not be counted by the system.


USAA is a Fortune 200 financial services company that caters to military servicemembers (including veterans) and their families. Members can access USAA's highly-competitive banking, insurance, and investment services. USAA awards membership to soldiers, sailors, marine, and airmen, as well as their "families," which it arbitrarily defines as including only STRAIGHT families. According to USAA, a loving same-sex married or partnered couple does not constitute a family. Instead, USAA refers to same-sex married spouses as "roommates" or "cohabitants".

This is USAA's official company line:

"USAA is a membership based company that considers cohabitants, domestic partners, civil union partners, and same-sex marriage spouses not eligible for membership." How nice that domestic partners and spouses are lumped in with common roommates.

USAA thus awards membership to former (divorced) spouses, adult children, and even grandchildren of STRAIGHT servicemembers and former servicemembers. Nevertheless, it continues to discriminate against gay and lesbian servicemembers by refusing to allow spouses or partners - even legally-wed or partnered in their respective states - of gay or lesbian servicemembers to join USAA. One ex-customer of USAA described how her insurance coverage was revoked after her partner of 15 years, a military veteran, died of breast cancer - all because she was not a "member" of USAA, even though she clearly would have been had she been married to a man instead of a woman.

Especially now that the military allows gays and lesbians to serve openly, it is patently wrong and discriminatory to deny an equal opportunity for these individuals to become members. In fact, early last year USAA even decided to award health and other benefits to partners of its gay and lesbian employees, but left gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families in the lurch.

USAA has at times claimed that it follows the "DoD" or IRS policy. This is total bunk for a few reasons. First, the DoD policy now allows gays and lesbians to serve openly. Second, DOMA only applies to the federal government, not to individual businesses. Contrary to popular belief, USAA is not a government or military-owned bank. It is a private company that sets its own policies. The vast majority of businesses (including other banks, car rental companies, insurance companies, etc.) have no problem offering benefits and coverage to partners and spouses of gay and lesbian customers.

USAA's discrimination is especially egregious because USAA claims to support the military, yet discriminates against gay and lesbian servicemembers - who put their lives on the line every day for our freedom - and their families.

Let USAA know that this double standard is unequal, unacceptable, unfair, unjust, unwarranted, and un-American! ALL of our proud men and women in the U.S. Military deserve equal treatment. Demand that USAA stop this discrimination against our troops and their families now!


NOTE: Same-sex couples in California may have a legal remedy pursuant to the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Please see "petition updates" for details.


Question and Answers

Q: USAA tells me that they will list my same-sex spouse or partner on my insurance policy. What's the problem?

A: This confuses two separate issues. Each state regulates its own insurance, and some states require USAA to list legally married couples on insurance policies. Likewise, even roommates can be listed on insurance policies - for an additional premium - regardless of the state (even in Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, etc.)

However, USAA has absolute discretion in most states regarding how it refers to same-sex spouses or domestic partners, and whether it will make those spouses or partners members of USAA, as opposite-sex spouses are. The current USAA policy is to refer to spouses as "roommates" or "cohabitants", and that same-sex spouses or domestic partners are not eligible for membership with USAA. This is where the discrimination comes in. USAA could just as easily treat gay and lesbian servicemembers and veterans with respect, and correctly refer to their spouses and partners as such, rather than roommates, which is totally disrespectful. Likewise, USAA could just as easily treat same-sex spouses as spouses, and grant them membership to USAA. It chooses not to do so.

Q: I have seen several posts on USAA's facebook wall that make it seem like USAA's policy is not discriminatory.

A: USAA is referring to its policies regarding listing additional insured on insurance policies, which is completely separate. USAA is obfuscating the issue to try to cover up its discrimination. See above.

Q: Do you have proof?

A: Yes, if you click on "petition updates" above, you can see that numerous servicemembers and veterans have documented the discrimination against their same-sex spouses or partners. In addition, USAA is refusing to clarify its policy in writing regarding membership eligibility at the moment. Once and if additional information is received, it will be posted in the "petition updates" section.

Q: I'm not gay, so why should I care?

A: Regardless of your personal views on gay marriage or other forms of partnership, the issue is that some states have chosen to treat gays and lesbians equally, either through same-sex marriage, or through civil unions and domestic partnerships. Polls show that a majority of Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of granting gays and lesbians the right to enter into civil unions and domestic partnerships, and that actually a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

Regardless, though, the issue is treating all families with respect and dignity. If a loving couple is married or partnered in their respective state, then institutions should treat them equally. This is especially true where one or both of the partners or spouses has served our country proudly, and put his/her life on the line to protect this country and our freedom.

Q: Do I have legal recourse?

A: It depends. You should consult with an attorney, and this is not intended to be legal advice. In California however, all businesses are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, and even marital status. This may mean that if you are a California resident, under the Unruh Civil Rights Act USAA is required to treat your same-sex domestic partner or spouse as it would any opposite-sex married couple, which would include granting your significant other full member status. In other states, the answer is more unclear, but you are probably not protected. This is why it's especially important for USAA to do the right thing and choose to treat same-sex spouses and domestic partners equally, regardless of whether local laws require it to do so. USAA should not get away with doing the bare legal minimum.

Q: How do you know all this?

A: I worked at USAA for a year. In addition, I have spoken to numerous members who have reported discrimination against their same-sex spouses or partners, and have scoured the web for additional reports.

Q: Why do you hate USAA?

A: I don't. On the contrary, I love USAA. That's why I worked for them. I've been a USAA member since 2005. I think they are a superb organization for the most part, and have outstanding customer service (except in this regard, although from what I hear the customer service has been on the decline in the past few years even generally). Most employees at USAA care deeply about the military. If I hated USAA, I would simply wash my hands of the organization, and certainly not be so passionate about encouraging them change their policies. I just want USAA to do the right thing and to treat all servicemembers and their families with dignity.

Q: Who are you?

A: My name is Jason Cabot. I am a third year student at Harvard Law School, and I am graduating in May 2012. I would not necessarily consider myself an activist, but I do feel passionately that USAA should do the right thing and treat all gay and lesbian servicemembers, veterans, and their families equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

Q: Why do you think USAA is so recalcitrant in its treatment of gays and lesbians?

A: This is strictly my personal opinion. USAA is based in Texas. Even though the majority of American servicemembers, and the vast majority of the American public, supported the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, USAA's management is led by an older generation. Almost every member on its board of directors is a retired general or flag officer. See

Likewise, out of the 11 members of USAA's executive council (top management), all 10 are white, 9 are male, and all (or nearly all) are beyond the age of 50. See Moreover, to my knowledge, every single member on its executive council is a staunch republican. Looking up the donation records (which are public records) for the 2008 election cycle, it appears that every one (for whom I could find donation records) donated to McCain in 2008 and most donated to either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney in 2012. Moreover, every executive (Assistant Vice President or above) whose donation records I could find donated to a republican candidate. Statistically speaking, such individuals are not likely to be very supportive of gay rights.

USAA is simply not an organization that is very tolerant of different viewpoints. Most of its executives, even some who might otherwise lean democratic or be supportive of gay rights, donate to republican candidates in a desire to conform and not stick out from the group. Donating to a democratic candidate, or voicing support for LGBT rights, is unfortunately probably a career ender among the executive ranks. This is an attitude that needs to change.

Recent signatures


    1. Victory!

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      According to Mike at USAA (information posted on USAA's facebook page), USAA now recognizes same-sex spouses, and partners in civil unions and domestic partnerships as family members. Additionally, same-sex spouses and partners are now eligible for USAA membership on the same basis as opposite-sex spouses. Additionally, USAA informed me that this recognition of same-sex spouses and partners applies even if the couple has moved to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Finally, USAA states that it will clarify this policy on its website.

      USAA, thank you for doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and recognizing all committed families, spouses and partners on the same basis, regardless of sexual orientation.

    2. Reached 350 signatures
    3. More USAA responses (3)

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      In response to a question from CDR James Jammel, USCG:
      "In those states that provide same-gender couples the same rights as married couples, our property and casualty insurance policies provide the same kind of coverage and protection to the partners of same-gender relationships as we would for opposite-gender relationships."

      However, in another post responding to whether USAA "recognize[s] and list[s] a same-sex spouse as a spouse", USAA admits that:
      "We are not able to do this currently, but we recognize that this term has important meaning for married couples and we are investigating how we can use this term for same-gender couples in states that recognize same-gender relationships. However, in those states that recognize same-gender marriage, the spouse is identified as a spouse in the insurance policy."

      Aha! We finally have an admission that USAA does not actually recognize same-sex spouses as "spouses". Still no word on who is eligible for membership though.

    4. More USAA responses (2)

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      "USAA membership is offered without regard to sexual orientation. In addition, for purposes of property and casualty insurance coverage, USAA recognizes same-gender marriages, registered domestic partnerships, and civil unions in states that legally provide them the same rights as married couples. In those states, USAA extends property and casualty insurance coverage under a member’s policies to same-gender spouses, civil union partners or registered domestic partners. In addition, USAA is in full compliance with all state and federal laws on this issue, including the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California, related to same-gender marriage."

      This is great, but still avoids the principal issue of whether same-sex spouses and partners are eligible for membership. A non-answer then, but better than nothing at all? Maybe it shows that USAA is moving in the right direction?

    5. More USAA responses

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      "All products and services of USAA and its affiliated companies are offered without regard to sexual orientation. Auto and property insurance is offered only to members. Membership is most prominently focused on active duty military, those honorably discharged, and former dependents of our members. Property insurance is available, subject to underwriting, to provide coverage to any person in the member’s household.

      Auto insurance is available to provide coverage to listed operators, subject to underwriting, living with the member. This is true for our members in traditional as well as non-traditional households (whether the member is single, cohabitating, married, or in a domestic partner relationship)."

      Again, completely avoids the issue of whether same-sex spouses and partners are offered MEMBERSHIP. Auto insurance is regulated by individual states, but membership is granted solely at USAA's discretion.

    6. USAA responds!

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      After four days of complete silence, USAA has finally provided some responses to member questions. Unfortunately, none of these answer whether same-sex spouses, and same-sex partners in civil unions and registered domestic partnership are offered MEMBERSHIP to USAA like their straight counterparts. So while it's commendable that USAA has answered in some way, it is skill skirting around the principal issue.

      "USAA recognizes same-gender marriages and civil unions in states where those relationships are legally recognized. Our objective is and always will be to provide outstanding customer service and outstanding products to all of our members, regardless of their orientation or personal relationships. We comply fully with laws related to same-gender relationships and are committed to serving each of our members with the utmost respect."

      Continued... (I am limited to 1000 characters per post :-( ).

    7. Reached 250 signatures
    8. USAA discriminates against same-sex husband of California veteran

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      "My husband and I use USAA for our banking. My husband is prior military and I was able to also get accounts and insurance through him. However, the bank refuses to give me equal access to benefits and use of their institution because they consider me as a housemate instead of his husband. We have a legal marriage certificate from the San Diego county clerk's office. They will not update my relationship status as married. There rational is that because there bank is located in Texas they do not have to follow CA state laws regarding marriage. Is this discrimination? How can they not recognize our martial status when they are serving customers located in CA where marriage between same sex couples was legal."

      Ed's note: Without giving legal advice, this appears to be a violation of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act. Individuals in this situation should contact an attorney or the California AG's office at

    9. More stories from members and USAA silence

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Several additional comments from other USAA members. Jim Kammel writes:
      "I live in DC where I am legally married. USAA will not add my spouse to my policy as my spouse, but instead wanted to list him as co-habitant."

      Brady McCarron writes that, while USAA puts his husband on his policies (because it is required to do so under some state laws, "My husband is listed as my co-habitant" and that "He is otherwise ineligible to join on his own" as he would be if he were an opposite-sex spouse.

      Also, several members have asked USAA to clarify their policy on this issue since Sunday night. I myself did so last Wednesday. We have yet to hear back from anyone. I guess this is USAA's way of telling us to go away and that our business is not appreciated?

      See e.g. , , , among others.

    10. Amazing!

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      As of 7:00 PM Eastern Time on January 14, we have surpassed 200 members! Thank you all for your support of this important issue. If you have not already done so, please contact usaa at and on twitter @usaa and including #usaa. Please repost this link on your facebook and twitter, or email friends you think might be interested in this issue. If you or your friends run a blog or are in the media, ask them to run a story about USAA's discriminatory policy.


    11. Update

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      As of 1 AM Eastern Time on 1/24/2011, we stand at 177 signatures, coming up quickly on 200. Again, please relink this petition on social networks such as facebook and twitter, and encourage your friends and family to sign as well - it only takes a minute. Also, visiting USAA's facebook page and asking them to change the policy directly (with a link to this petition) is very helpful, as is calling USAA and writing letters or emails.

      I have seen at least two such posts from other members on USAA's facebook wall regarding this issue. The first was promised an answer to his questions by yesterday morning. He has received none. The second post was ignored by USAA entirely, but "liked" by another member who added her own comment.

      In addition, I have linked this petition on The feedback has generally been very positive, even in the more conservative "Military" community forum - where it has received 35 "up votes" and appears on the top 10 of the "what's hot" list.

    12. Is USAA violating the California Unruh Civil Rights Act?

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      California law, specifically the Unruh Civil Rights Act, provides that ALL businesses (e.g., companies doing business in California, which would include USAA) must treat customers equally regardless of sexual orientation. Specifically, the text of the law provides:

      "All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their ... sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever."

      It seems to me that denying full member status to same-sex spouses or registered partners of California members violates this act. Member status at USAA would qualify as an "advantage" or "privilege", and getting insurance or banking through USAA would qualify as a "service".

      I recommend that California USAA members consult with attorneys or contact the AG at

      N.B.: This is not legal advice

    13. My response to USAA

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Actually, no one has yet explained to me how differing state laws, military policies, and "limits of existing systems" make it impossible to grant appropriate recognition to the families of gay and lesbian military servicemembers. On the contrary, the only thing I've been told is that USAA chooses to follow DOMA and deny recognition to these families. This is a choice made by USAA, and not a mandate arising out of any state or federal law. No law mandates that private companies such as USAA deny recognition to same-sex families or couples.

      Rather, USAA could just as easily decide to do the right thing and grant full recognition to the families of these servicemembers instead of referring to same-sex spouses as "roommates" or "cohabitants". While I would still disagree if USAA chose to do the bare minimum and at least grant member status to same-sex married spouses in states that recognize same-sex marriage...

      Click link below to keep reading!

    14. Message from USAA

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      When I tried posting a link to the USAA facebook page, I received the following email from USAA:

      "Jason, I understand you have strong feelings, and we've done our best (and will continue to do our best) to explain why differing state laws, the military policies on which we base our own policies and the limits of existing systems make this a more complicated issue than perhaps you appreciate. USAA continues to be committed to fairness and equity to all, and we will do our best to address your and others' concerns.

      That being said, we have a policy against "bumping" an issue to the top of the page by repeatedly posting it. You can find our Posting Guidelines in the "Info" link on the right of our Facebook page. As a result, we are hiding this post and ask that you comply with our fan page's policies by refraining from reposting the same ideas and concerns. ~ Augie"

      See the link above for my response.

    15. Please share this petition with friends and family!

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      In order to keep the pressure up on USAA, please share this petition with friends and family. Ask them to support gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families. Thanks!

    16. Reached 100 signatures
    17. USAA refuses to insure partner of 30-year USAA member

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Writes Rick:

      "However, our domestic partnership was not accepted for the same level of benefits as those of a [straight] married couple. For example, my partner could buy automobile insurance with the company but that benefit would end upon my death. Similarly, my partner could not continue the household insurance policy I've had with USAA for over 30 years; he would have to find a new company to insure the property."

    18. Members can join USAA if they are "spouses" of USAA members .

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Individuals eligible for USAA membership are:
      -Spouses of existing USAA members
      -Former spouses of USAA members
      -Widows or Widowers of USAA members

      Even though there's no "opposite-sex" only disclaimer, USAA nevertheless considers only opposite-sex married partners as "spouses." Same-sex married partners are "roommates" or "cohabitants."

    19. USAA's inconsistent approach to recognition of lesbian and gay partnerships

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Although USAA continues to discriminate against its gay and lesbian servicemember customers, USAA reportedly is now offering benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

      Company spokesman Paul Berry at the time stated: "It's the right thing to do."

      "Asked how some of its more conservative customers may react to the decision, Berry said, "I understand the question. I just don't know if it's appropriate for me to try to respond to how I think they'll respond."
      As to whether USAA is concerned some customers may opt to take their business elsewhere, "I think our members know we are fulfilling our mission to them to provide their financial security," Berry said. "I think that's going to be their biggest concern when it comes to USAA.""

      It's amazing that USAA recognizes providing benefits to same-sex partners of its employees is the "right thing to do," but continues to deny coverage to the same-sex partners (even married same-sex spouses) of its military customers.

    20. USAA refuses to refer to husband as "spouse," instead uses "cohabitant"

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      1of18000, a coast guard veteran according to his profile, writes:

      "USAA refuses to change my husband's status from "cohabitant" [i.e. roommate] to "spouse" and refuses to upgrade his membership from associate to full. USAA continues citing excuses like required system changes, small number of USAA members in same-sex marriages, local regulations, etc."

      Ed. note: Upon information and belief, USAA does not grant "associate" member status to same-sex partners; instead they are tiered only as roommates; same-sex spouses are not independently eligible for insurance and banking services as all other opposite-sex (straight) spouses are. Other members have cited stories of being revoked insurance coverage if their independently-eligible (i.e., veteran) spouse or partner dies.

    21. USAA engages in viewpoint discrimination.

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      As a former employee and current member of USAA, I posted a link to this petition on a company-run facebook group for current and former employees. A day later, my post was gone. Is USAA so ashamed of its policy that it refuses to allow debate and discussion by its own employees on this issue? If so, it should do the right thing and get rid of its discriminatory policy.

    22. USAA refers to same-sex spouses as "roommates"

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Writes Sean W.:
      "I have used USAA for my banking since I was 18 and have loved it, Most of my accounts are there now but that might be changing as my partner of 5 years is getting tired of not being a member and of being referred to as my "roommate" by people at USAA when he has to call in about something. We are getting married this January and I called USAA to see about making him a member as the spouse of any other USAA member could be but was told that USAA does not extend membership to spouses of same sex marriage."

      Also writes Michael:
      A representative "said he would add my partner as well. I never really bothered to look into it and now I can't find my partner at all on my profile. Just recently [USAA] called me to say I can't have that policy anymore as it was just temporary (but I have had it for 3 years). [The representative] asked if my wife had a car here and if she wanted it insured. I said I don't have a wife and not interested."

    23. USAA refuses to comply with Washington State law.

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer

      Writes Joe Mirabella:

      "According to the new law, we are supposed to be treated equally to married heterosexual couples under state law. Supposedly the only difference in the code is the terminology for our relationship. Straight couple's use the word marriage; gay couples use the words domestic partnerships.
      When I called to inform USAA about my domestic partnership I expected to be treated equally as the state law dictates. I expected USAA to follow through on their stellar reputation for premium customer service. I was wrong.
      I requested a written response from the company explaining their discriminatory policy. This is how they replied:

      We understand your concern with the extra effort required to obtain a power of attorney. USAA is aware of the new Washington specific state laws surrounding domestic partnerships. USAA is a membership based company that considers cohabitants, domestic partners, civil union partners, and same-sex marriage spouses not eligible for membership.

    24. USAA drops veteran's coverage after partner passes away from breast cancer!

      Jason Cabot
      Petition Organizer


      Writes faithmh from Jacksonville, FL:

      "USAA Banking and Insurance — My partner and I have owned a home together for 15 years. It has been insured with USAA for the entire time along with the car that I drive. My partner passed away from breast cancer on March 7th. It has been hard and I miss her desperately. Dealing with grief is difficult enough but what makes it even worse is when I am reminded of how society views gay relationships and that feels like a knife through the heart. Yesterday I called USAA to have our home and auto insurance transferred to my name but they dropped me like a brick. ... The problem is that I live in Florida and USAA is no longer writing new policies here. Of course, this doesn't apply to married couples. If we were married, then it wouldn't be considered a new policy - they would simply remove her name. Of course we cannot marry in Florida. USAA did direct me to another company but the insurance cost is twice as much with less coverage."

    25. Reached 50 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Sylvia Williams DURHAM, NC
      • over 1 year ago

      I have served my country for over 21 years and married my chosen spouse. It is unfair, disrespectful, and discriminatory to not allow my chosen spouse full membership on our jointly owned autos and homes as every other married couple is allowed.

    • Julia Perryman WINTER HAVEN, FL
      • over 1 year ago

      Because it's personal

    • Jordan Bouvier CHICAGO, IL
      • over 1 year ago

      I am gay and I am a USAA member. I should be treated the same as any other customer.

    • Shital K MUMBAI, INDIA
      • over 1 year ago

      this is the single most important change for me, my partner and everyone else affected by this.

    • Alexandria Wise VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
      • over 1 year ago

      I'm a USAA member and I'd like my same sex partner to have the same access to the wonderful USAA services that I have if we were to get married.


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