Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, praised the decision from the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of nationwide marriage equality.
“From burial rights to veteran home loans, today’s historic Supreme Court decision bringing marriage equality to every state in our great nation means that LGBT military families will finally have access to the full federal veterans benefits they’ve earned,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Nationwide marriage equality is not just a huge victory for LGBT people, but for America.”
Even after the partial demise of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is still following language in Title 38 section 103(c) when determining the validity of marriages for veteran benefits purposes that forces it to look to the state of residence. 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 because the state they live in does not recognize their marriage. Legally married active duty service members living in non-marriage equality states are also denied access to the full backing of VA home loans. Today’s decision bringing marriage equality to every state in our nation ends this discrimination.
Additionally, even after so many states gained marriage equality, and even though the military recognized the legal marriages of our members, once they stepped off their military installation, the laws of the state often took precedence. Even if they lived in an equality state, it was very likely they would eventually be transferred; with no guarantees their new assignment would be in another equality state. They lived in fear of their families losing the everyday legal recognition others often take for granted, like married tax status, the ability to make healthcare decisions for your spouse, or enrolling your child in school.
Nationwide marriage equality is a tremendous victory, and the progress made for LGBT service members and their families in just a few short years has been profound. But the work to gain full equality is far from over, especially for our transgender service members and their families who are still forced to serve in silence due to outdated regulations. AMPA is committed to continuing the fight to advance fairness and equality for LGBT military families within the services and our military communities.