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Filed under: DOMA trials

Is Cardona military spousal benefits case nearing its end?

Following up on the request last week from the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims, Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has filed a memo addressing questions of the court’s jurisdiction and the next steps the military will take in the case.

Continue 2 Comments October 10, 2013

Veterans’ court asks for briefing on whether case challenging exclusion of same-sex couples from military spousal benefits is moot

Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims seal
Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims seal
The Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims is currently hearing one of the remaining challenges to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as well as statutes related to military benefits; the case is Cardona v. Shinseki. The challenge is still pending following the resolution in federal courts of other military benefits-related challenges, in Cooper-Harris v. USA and McLaughlin v. Hagel (formerly McLaughlin v. Panetta.

In this case, after Section 3 of DOMA was struck down in United States v. Windsor and the Obama administration later decided to construe Titles 10 and 32 to apply to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples in the military and declined to enforce Title 38, questions were raised over whether the appeal is now moot. The plaintiff, Carmen Cardona, had argued in a supplemental filing that the original decision in this case denying benefits hasn’t been withdrawn, and that this administration’s decision to stop enforcing the relevant sections of Title 38 aren’t binding on any future administration.

The court is now asking for supplemental briefing from the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs on whether or not the claims are moot. The order lays out the questions for Secretary Shinseki to answer:

When discussing whether a case or controversy remains in this matter, the Secretary should address in his supplemental memorandum of law: (1) Whether he has paid or taken steps to pay the appellant those benefits denied by the Board; (2) whether he will seek a VA General Counsel opinion formalizing the President’s conclusion that these subsections are unconstitutional and unenforceable as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, Letter from Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, to John Boehner, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives 1-2 (Sept. 4, 2013); see 38 U.S.C. § 7104(c); 38 C.F.R. § 14.502 (2013); and (3) whether the Board will reconsider its decision in this case, either sua sponte, or upon request of the appellant, and grant the appellant the benefits she seeks, see 38 U.S.C. § 7103.

Secretary Shinseki’s brief is due today (the order was filed on September 20) and the judge has asked the plaintiff to reply in 14 days.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing

11-3083 #200 by Equality Case Files

October 4, 2013

Military policy granting leave to gay military servicemembers to marry is still not fully implemented

A new LA Times report notes that gay couples are experiencing difficulties getting time off under a new policy to allow gay servicemembers to travel to a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legal in order to get married.

Continue October 3, 2013

District court reiterates unconstitutionality of laws withholding spousal benefits from gay troops

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns ruled yesterday that laws prohibiting gay troops from obtaining spousal benefits are unconstitutional.

Continue October 3, 2013

House members propose new anti-gay bill

A bill that purportedly is aimed to protect religious liberty, but targets same-sex couples, has been introduced in Congress.

Continue 4 Comments September 20, 2013

Four states refuse military benefits for married same-sex couples

Four states are now blocking military benefits for same-sex married couples, even after a directive from the federal government to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA in United States v. Windsor.

Continue 2 Comments September 18, 2013

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