Federal Judge Rules VA Must Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Couples in Marriage Equality States
August 30, 2013 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Associate Director of Digital Media
The Department of Veteran Affairs must offer full rights and benefits to legally married same-sex couples living in marriage equality states, according to a federal judge’s ruling filed yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall of Los Angeles found in favor of 12-year Army veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris of Pasadena, California, who sued the VA for denying her full disability benefits because she is married to a woman, reported NBC News.
The Department of Veterans currently faces several lawsuits challenging the legality of Title 38, which defines a spouse as a “person of the opposite sex.” According to the VA, this federal law was not overturned by the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
While the judge’s ruling yesterday is an important step forward for veterans, we anxiously await to see how the VA will handle benefits for the legally married same-sex couples living in the 37 states where marriage equality is not recognized.
To learn more about the impact of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision, visit www.hrc.org/SCOTUS.
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