Nation & World News

GOP Won’t Defend Ban On Veterans Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

By Liz Halloran on July 18th, 2013

House Republicans, who defended in court the Defense of Marriage Act only to see it struck down by the Supreme Court last month, have now decided not to try to defend a similar law that denies veterans’ benefits to married, same-sex couples.

BuzzFeed, which broke the news Thursday of the GOP’s decision, reports that:

” ‘[T]he House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute,’ lawyers for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), controlled by House Republicans, wrote. …

” ‘The document from the legal team speaks for itself,’ House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed, when asked for comment on the move.”

“Judge Richard Stearns had asked the parties in a lawsuit addressing the rights of service members and veterans and their same-sex spouses to give ‘any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case,’ following the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down section 3 of DOMA. The deadline for responding to Stearns’ question is Thursday.”

There’s a copy here of the GOP court filing.

The section of the U.S. Code in question includes this definition of “spouse”:

“The term ‘surviving spouse’ means (except for purposes of chapter 19 of this title) a person of the opposite sex who was the spouse of a veteran at the time of the veteran’s death, and who lived with the veteran continuously from the date of marriage to the date of the veteran’s death (except where there was a separation which was due to the misconduct of, or procured by, the veteran without the fault of the spouse) and who has not remarried or (in cases not involving remarriage) has not since the death of the veteran, and after September 19, 1962, lived with another person and held himself or herself out openly to the public to be the spouse of such other person.”

Those who have pushed for DOMA and similar laws to be struck down aren’t giving the GOP much credit.

“After millions of taxpayer dollars wasted defending discrimination, it’s a historic sign of the times that the House leadership is dropping its pointless quest to maintain second-class status for lesbian and gay couples,” says Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, “the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”

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