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U.S. Senators call out Veteran Affairs for discriminating against spouses of same-sex couples

Rainbow flags at Montreal gay pride parade.
Marc Bruxelle
/
Getty Images/iStockphoto

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-CT) said the Department of Veterans Affairs discriminates against the spouses of LGBTQ veterans who apply for VA benefits.

The senators said the VA has denied benefits, like health care and life insurance payouts, to the spouses of LGBTQ veterans citing the couples have not been married long enough.

In a letter to Denis McDonough, the secretary of the VA, the senators said the denials were discriminatory in cases where the same-sex couple would have married, but lived someplace where gay marriage was banned.

"By denying benefits in cases where same-sex couples failed to meet marriage duration requirements, VA ignores the reality that discriminatory marriage laws where these couples lived barred them from marrying—even though they were in loving, committed relationships and would have married earlier if they could," the senators wrote.

"It was not until the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges a constitutional right to marry that same-sex relationships were properly recognized, including the 'constellation' of rights associated with marriage, such as the 'rights and benefits of survivors.'”

They want the VA to follow the example of the Social Security Administration, which agreed to reconsider claims that were denied due to the length of the marriage.

U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also signed the letter.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.