Sign our Petition to the Attorney General: Treat Married Gay and Lesbian Veterans Equally

Sign our Petition to the Attorney General: Treat Married Gay and Lesbian Veterans Equally

Attorney General Holder, Tell the VA to Grant Married Gay and Lesbian Veterans the Benefits They've Earned Read the petition First Name Last Name Email State / Province Post Code LGBT servicemember, veteran, or partner/spouse? Our gay and lesbian military veterans and their families deserve equal access to the benefits they have earned. Yet even after the Supreme Court's decision affirming that the U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to recognize same-gender marraiges, many legally married gay and lesbian service members and veterans still do not have access to their earned benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unlike the Department of Defense, because of Title 38 section 103(c), the VA looks to the state of residence rather than the place of marriage, thereby denying these veterans and their spouses living in non-marriage equality states many of the benefits they have earned and deserve. While the administration announced after the Supreme Court's decision that it was reviewing changes that can be made in light of the ruling, it has still yet to make a decision with the VA and Title 38. Our families are counting on you to take action now and direct the VA to treat all married veterans equally. [signature] Keep me updated   Sign Now Share this with your friends:     Find out more in this article in the Washington Blade: DOJ faces renewed call to provide benefits to gay...
Victory! Lambda Legal Resolves Lawsuit on Behalf of AMPA for VA Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

Victory! Lambda Legal Resolves Lawsuit on Behalf of AMPA for VA Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

“Married veterans and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation, will now have the critical veterans’ benefits they need to take care of their families.” Today, Lambda Legal and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) announced that they are concluding litigation against the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) following the VA’s changes to its policies on benefits ending discrimination against veterans and their same-sex spouses.  The new policies are consistent with the June 2015 US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell that struck down marriage discrimination. “We are very pleased that now, nationwide, gay and lesbian veterans who have served their country and risked the ultimate sacrifice for their nation — all while facing discrimination against them — will have access to deserved and long-awaited benefits,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. “Married veterans and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation or where they live, will now have the critical veterans’ benefits they need to take care of their families.” “The new VA policies pave the way for veterans and their same-sex spouses, no matter where they live, to access such important rights as survivor benefits, home loan guarantees, and burial together in national cemeteries,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of AMPA. “We are happy to see more barriers to equality for LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families fall.” In August 2014, Lambda Legal filed a petition on AMPA’s behalf in the Federal Circuit Court arguing that the deprivation of veterans’ benefits to same-sex spouses based on states’ non-recognition of their marriages is unconstitutional. Recently, the VA issued internal guidance to its staff and updated its website to reflect the change...
Update: AMPA’s Legal Challenge Against the VA

Update: AMPA’s Legal Challenge Against the VA

On Wednesday, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) filed a joint status report and motion to continue to hold for an additional 30 days in the lawsuit filed on behalf of AMPA members who were denied VA benefits. Represented by Lambda Legal and Morrison and Foerster LLP, AMPA had filed the suit in August of 2014. The challenge was on hold pending the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The historic marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court in June of 2015 made it possible for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin recognizing same-sex marriages for the purpose of veteran benefits, no matter what state the veteran lives in. Previously denied spousal related benefits included benefits like disability compensation, death pensions, and home loan guarantees if the veteran happened to live in a state that didn’t recognize their marriage. The discriminatory language found in Title 38 section 103(c) was no longer applicable when determining the validity of same-sex marriages thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision affirming a Constitutional right to nationwide marriage equality in the Obergefell case. Last week, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) released instructional and procedural guidance to their regional benefits offices and centers regarding processing same-sex spousal benefits claims. Currently, the VA is in its final steps toward releasing similar guidance to the public. According to the petition, the VA is “preparing guidance to the public, and expects to issue that guidance shortly.”  The petition states “in order to provide adequate time for petitioner to review the public guidance once it has issued, the parties jointly request a 30-day extension of the current stay.” Wednesday’s filing also states,...
Senator Shaheen Reintroduces the Charlie Morgan Military  Spouses Equal Treatment Act

Senator Shaheen Reintroduces the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act

Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act – legislation that would extend full VA benefits to same-sex married couples and dependents. Announcing the re-introduction today, Senator Shaheen’s office said, “The legislation is named after the late New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan who passed away in 2013 after a battle with breast cancer; after her passing, Morgan’s wife and daughter were initially ineligible to receive certain survivor benefits until the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. To this day, families in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized remain ineligible for certain Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.” “According to the Justice Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is unable to grant comprehensive benefits to same-sex couples in states that do not recognize such legal marriages. The Charlie Morgan Act would address this lingering inequality by altering the definition of marriage in Title 38 to ensure that all veterans receive the federal benefits they’ve earned, regardless of their state of residency.” “No one who has served in uniform and fought for our country should be denied the benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” Shaheen said. “It’s unacceptable that a veteran could return home only to find that their families are not eligible for benefits they were promised because they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. We must act immediately to right this wrong.” “Our service members put their lives on the line for our nation, and yet, if they happen to live in a state that doesn’t respect their marriage, the federal government denies them...
Respect for Marriage Act Reintroduced in Congress

Respect for Marriage Act Reintroduced in Congress

Today, Senator Feinstein in the U.S. Senate and Representatives Nadler and Ros-Lehtinen in the U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act. While the U.S. Supreme Court found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, the remaining sections were not considered by the Supreme Court. The Respect for Marriage Act would fully repeal DOMA. “Military and veteran families continue to suffer harm caused by marriage inequality,” said Ashley Broadway, AMPA President and spouse of an active-duty Army officer. “The Department of Veterans Affairs still does not fully recognize the same-sex marriages of service members and veterans living in non-marriage equality states. All service members, veterans, and their families deserve full and equal access to their earned veterans’ benefits, no matter what state they live in.” The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is still following discriminatory language in Title 38 section 103c when determining the validity of marriages for veteran benefits purposes. As service members transition from active duty, same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states are denied full and equal access to many earned veterans’ benefits from the VA. Legally married active duty service members living in non-marriage equality states are also denied access to the full backing of VA home loans. In August of last year, AMPA filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of the VA challenging the VA’s regulations. The petition states, “Having weathered the federal government’s past, longstanding discrimination against them, lesbian and gay veterans and their families find themselves once again deprived of equal rights and earned benefits by the government they served and the nation for which they sacrificed.” The challenge is now pending in the United...