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US Veterans Affairs sued over denying benefits to gay couples in states without gay marriage

US Veterans Affairs sued over denying benefits to gay couples in states without gay marriage

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being taken to court over it continuing to deny some spousal benefits to military same-sex couples who live in states where same-sex marriage is banned despite the Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) is bringing the action through its legal counsels Lambda Legal and Morrison and Foerster LLP who filed a law suit against the VA on Monday in the Federal Circuit Court.

‘Gay and lesbian veterans have served their country and risked the ultimate sacrifice to fulfill their duty to this nation,’ Lambda Legal director of constitutional litigation Susan Sommer said.

‘Married veterans and their spouses, wherever they live, need critical veterans benefits, earned through years of often perilous service, to take care of their families. No member of our community should be left behind just because their home state continues to discriminate against their marriage.’

AMPA president Stephen Peters, a Marine veteran and spouse of an active duty Marine, said it was unacceptable that a branch of the US Government still discriminated against some gay and lesbian military service people.

‘It is simply unacceptable to see AMPA’s members not only discriminated against in their home states where their marriages are disrespected but also turned down by the federal government for basic veterans benefits for their spouses,’ he said.

‘Our members will be denied pension and survivors benefits, home loan guarantees, and other earned veterans benefits.’

AMPA’s lawyers will argue that the Supreme Court finding Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat same-sex couples equally regardless of whether their state allows same-sex couples to marry.

‘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,’ their petition to the court states.