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Senator Udall (D-Co) asks Obama administration for more action on military veterans’ benefits

DOMA trials LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality

Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill
Back in early September, the Obama administration announced that it will stop enforcing portions of Title 38 of the US Code, which relates to spousal benefits for military veterans. Several lawsuits have addressed the statute, along with the now-unconstitutional DOMA Section 3; the administration, along with House Republicans who had been defending the statutes, ceased their defense of the law after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor.

The Washington Blade is reporting that Senator Mark Udall (D-Co) is now calling on the Obama administration to address further issues with interpreting Title 38. Section 103(c) of that title requires that in implementing spousal benefits, a person is considered legally “married” if their marriage is considered valid where they live. If a same-sex couple applies for their military spousal benefits while living in a state that doesn’t deem their marriage valid, the VA won’t recognize it.

Senator Udall is asking the administration to cease enforcement of that provision:

In a letter dated Nov. 11, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) calls on President Obama to cease enforcement of Section 103(c) of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, which looks to the state of residency, not the state of celebration, in determining whether a veteran is married.

“You have been a tremendous leader in working to end discrimination against the LGBT community during your presidency, and I know you would agree that there is no military interest or other governmental purpose met in continuing to apply the law in a way that disadvantages same sex couples,” Udall writes. “In this spirit, I ask that this discriminatory action cease while efforts to change the statute proceed through Congress.”

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is reportedly working on the issue:

The White House deferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs for comment, which said the situation is currently under review.

“VA is working closely with the Department of Justice to develop guidance to process cases involving same-sex spousal benefits, and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all our nation’s Veterans,” said VA spokesperson Drew Brookie. “Our commitment to provide all Veterans and their families with their earned care and benefits will continue to be our focus as VA implements the President’s decision.”

At least one federal case addressing Title 38 remains pending. Cardona v. Shinseki is being heard in a specialized court for veterans, and the plaintiffs are arguing that the voluntary cessation of enforcing Title 38 doesn’t moot the case.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing.

14 Comments

  • 1. Seth From Maryland  |  November 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    POLL: Opposition to Indiana rises even higher, hows that a majority of Indiana voters oppose amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, with 58 percent opposing the proposed amendment while just 38 percent support it. Opposition increased 4 points from 54 percent last year, while opposition remained steady. Even 40 percent of Republicans oppose the amendment.
    Hoosiers are still split, however, on whether the state should have marriage equality. A plurality of 48 percent support legally recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages, but a close 46 percent remain opposed.
    The Republican-controlled legislature is planning to grant final passage to the amendment in 2014, which voters would when have to approve. The Indianapolis City Council and Chamber of Commerce have come out against the amendment, as have Indiana University, Wabash College, and Depauw University. http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/11/14/2945721/

  • 2. Seth From Maryland  |  November 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Damn almost 60% of Indiana is now against this amendment , our side is really doing well there in building strong campaign

  • 3. Mackenzie  |  November 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    http://www.abc17news.com/news/gov-jay-nixon-issue

    MO Gov files executive order allowing legally wed same-sex couples to file taxes jointly in the state of MO. Not major, but a big deal for those of us in the state!

  • 4. Seth From Maryland  |  November 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Ball State joins coalition opposing marriage amendment:Ball State University on Thursday afternoon joined the Freedom Indiana coalition that is standing up for same-sex couples and their families.

    BSU’s University Senate, made up of faculty, staff and students, voted 51-9 to oppose what some call the Indiana marriage discrimination amendment, or House Joint Resolution 6, a proposed amendment to the state constitution reading: http://www.jconline.com/article/20131114/NEWS/311

  • 5. Dr. Z  |  November 15, 2013 at 3:08 am

    If the GOP persists with this amendment they could be setting up another Minnesota-type rebound.

  • 6. Dr. Z  |  November 15, 2013 at 3:12 am

    It is a big deal. As I pointed out here when Oregon did this in mid-October, the legal reasoning behind recognition of OOS SSM will undermine constitutional mini-DOMAs everywhere. This is contageous, and it's starting to spread.

  • 7. Zack12  |  November 15, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Mike Pence would still be governor,so that wouldn't happen but it would send a message that bans are a dead issue.

  • 8. Mackenzie  |  November 15, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I felt like it was more of a big deal than I said. MO just always sucks at this so I was being timid. Hahah I'm sure our state legislature is throwing a conniption fit right now.

  • 9. Seth From Maryland  |  November 15, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Mike Pence way stay around for this election however his poll number becoming awful , i'm not sure he be around much longer

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