Same-sex couples to receive veterans benefits

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

A ruling by a federal court judge in California last week has convinced the U.S. Department of Justice to no longer enforce the sections of U.S. Code Title 38 that prohibit same-sex couples from receiving veterans benefits. DOJ Won’t Enforce Law Banning Same-Sex Couples From Receiving Veterans Benefits:

EqualThe Department of Justice announced Wednesday
that it would no longer enforce the sections of U.S. Code Title 38 that
prohibit same-sex couples from receiving veterans benefits. The law
exists separately from the Defense of Marriage Act and was thus
continuing to block veterans from accessing benefits for their partners,
although a federal court overturned the law last week.

In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and first obtained by the Washington Blade,
Attorney General Eric Holder explained that even though “Decisions by
the Executive not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare,” the
DOMA ruling and subsequent decision last week provide ample
justification for no longer enforcing this restriction. This is
especially true, he pointed out, since the House Republicans are no
longer defending Title 38 through the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group
(BLAG):

In light of these developments, continued enforcement of
the Title 38 provisions pending further judicial review is unwarranted.
The decision of the Supreme Court in Windsor reinforces the
Executive’s conclusion that the Title 38 provisions are
unconstitutional, and another Article III court now has so determined.
Moreover, as I explained in my earlier letter, one of the primary
interests underlying the earlier decision to continue enforcement of the
Title 38 provisions was to allow representatives of Congress to present
a defense of those provisions to the judicial branch. BLAG’s decision
to withdraw from the Title 38 litigation in light of Windsor,
and therefore to cease its defense of the provisions at issue, means
that continued enforcement would no longer serve that interest. In
the meantime, continued enforcement 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
.

This decision ensures that veterans will not have to pursue costly
litigation of their own to receive benefits, nor wait for a decision to
be resolved by a higher court. Indeed, no higher decision might ever be
issued because neither the Obama administration nor the House
Republicans will appeal the lower court decision.

The strategy to dismantle state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians one brick at a time in the courts continues its success.

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