Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) confirmed they would begin extending benefits to legally married same-sex couples nationwide as a result of the historic marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court last week. Previously, the VA had denied some benefits to same sex couples who lived in states where their marriages were not recognized. Last week’s Supreme Court ruling negated the legal basis for those denials and the VA confirmed they are currently drafting guidance for their benefits offices to begin issuing benefits to those couples.
The American Military Partner Association’s President, Ashley Broadway-Mack, said: “We are thrilled the VA is acting so quickly to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling and are ready to do right by ALL our nation’s veterans. These are important benefits our nation’s veterans have earned and it was unconscionable that some were denied based solely on where they lived.”
Benefits previously denied included VA disability compensation, death pensions, burial rights and even home loan guarantees. Although still working on the final guidance, the VA said they would temporarily hold pending benefits applications that might have been denied under previous guidelines and they will later be processed under the new guidelines.
Represented by Lambda Legal, the American Military Partner Association filed a lawsuit in August of 2014 on behalf of AMPA members who had been denied benefits. According to Broadway-Mack, the lawsuit will hopefully now be unnecessary as long as the new VA rules recognize all legal marriages in every state.