Post submitted by Brian Moulton, Former HRC Legal Director
Yesterday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, a bill introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), which would remove remaining language from laws governing service member and veteran spousal benefits excluding married same-sex couples, and ensure that those couples are treated equally under these federal programs. In a statement after the committee’s action, Shaheen said, “Every individual who serves in uniform should have access to the benefits they’ve earned. Charlie [Morgan, after whom the bill is named] served on the front lines for our country, but because of her sexual orientation her family has been wrongfully being denied many of the same benefits given to those who stood beside her.”
While the Defense Department has already begun to make benefits equally available to service members’ same-sex spouses after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, the Department of Veterans Affairs has yet to issue guidance regarding the treatment of same-sex veteran spouses. This legislation would ensure that the VA is able to fully comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.