Same-Sex Spouses Now Eligible for Veterans Benefits

Chris Howey/Shutterstock.com

President Obama has extended federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military veterans, the Justice Department announced.

The move comes after the Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the Defense of Marriage Act -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman -- though the law did not apply to veterans benefits specifically. Federal statute defining benefits to veterans did not simply say “marriage” or “spouse,” as did the more than 1,000 laws affected by the DOMA decision; instead, the U.S. code explicitly stated the following for veterans: “The term ‘spouse’ means a person of the opposite sex who is a wife or husband.”

“Although the Supreme Court did not directly address the constitutionality of the Title 38 provisions in Windsor [v. United States], the reasoning of the opinion strongly supports the conclusion that those provisions are unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment,” Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to congressional leaders explaining the decision.

The Veterans Affairs Department was among the last holdouts in the federal government to extend benefits to same-sex spouses, with the Office of Personnel Management and Defense Department already issuing guidance extending benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

The announcement comes after a federal judge recently ruled a married same-sex couple in California was eligible for extra benefits reserved for married veterans. In July, House Republicans -- who sponsored the DOMA defense in the Supreme Court -- said they would no longer defend the statute prohibiting the extension of veterans’ benefits to same-sex spouses. 

(Image via Chris Howey/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.