BREAKING: Obama Admin Opens Up Military Benefits To Gay Veterans' Spouses
Another major announcement for same-sex couples arrives today courtesy of the Department of Justice, which reveals that it will no longer defend a provision that prohibits the spouses of LGBT veterans from receiving military benefits.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Wednesday letter to congressional leaders that the Justice Department had determined the Supreme Court’s rationale in a decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act should also apply to Title 38, the part of the U.S. code that governs veterans' benefits. Title 38 currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman, meaning that only heterosexual spouses receive the benefits, which include health care, disability and survival benefits and burials in national cemeteries.
Holder said last year that the Justice Department would no longer defend Title 38 in court. But Wednesday’s announcement went even further, with DOJ finding that the legal basis laid out by the Supreme Court in the DOMA decision should nullify the marriage definition in the provision. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said just last week that the spouses of gay veterans weren’t eligible for benefits because no court had found Title 38’s definitions to be unconstitutional.
Continued enforcement of the discriminatory law "would likely have a tangible adverse effect on the families of veterans and, in some circumstances, active-duty service members and reservists, with respect to survival, health care, home loan, and other benefits," Holder wrote in the statement announcing the DOJ policy change.