On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that spouses and children of veterans in a same-sex marriage will be eligible to partake in earned benefits. The announcement comes just days after the Supreme Court of the United States voted to legalize gay marriage.
USA Today reports that the announcement has lifted restrictions that prevents same sex spouses and their children from obtaining guaranteed home loans, survival benefits, and even burial rights. The decision is expected to impact thousands of veterans across the United States. Susan Sommers, the director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, expressed her excitement regarding the decision and the relief it will provide the family members that were previously not granted the rights of a traditional household.
“[Marriages] shouldn’t be without the same protections that other people in the military can count on for themselves and their families once their service is over.”
Until same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court, the department of Veterans Affairs was not legally allowed to offer the benefits to same-sex spouses and their children. Since the legalization, the VA released an official statement to announce the news.
“VA may (now) recognize the same-sex marriage of all veterans, where the veteran or the veteran’s spouse resided anywhere in the United States or its territories at the time of the marriage or at the time of the application of benefits.”
The Stars and Stripes shared that all applications that would have been previously denied due to a same-sex spouse or children shared by same-sex partners would be halted until they can be further reviewed to abide by the new regulations. The VA has guaranteed that they will work diligently to ensure proper training regarding the change taking place to avoid confusion.
“VA will work quickly to ensure that all offices and employees are provided guidance on implementing this important decision with respect to all programs, statutes, and regulations administered by VA.”
Since the announcement on Monday, the department of Veterans Affairs and their legal group have 30 days to discuss future actions and plan how they will proceed to ensure everyone is treated fairly and within proper guidelines.
The VA had previously taken action to expand benefits to same sex spouses in 2011, but they were still tightly regulated in regards to what could be offered at the time. With the new announcement that same sex spouses of veterans are now eligible for earned benefits, the options will be more fair and beneficial for families.
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