AG Holder ends Exclusion of Same-sex Couples from Veteran BenefitsIn a letter (PDF, Washington Blade) issued today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Speaker of the House John Boehner that the Department of Justice would no longer be enforcing sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38, which covers veterans’ benefits.
In plain English, that means that same-sex spouses of veterans are entitled to the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses.
Holder cites the Windsor case, where the Supreme Court ruled that treating married same-sex couples differently for tax purposes violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, arguing that under the court’s decision, treating same-sex spouses differently in veteran’s benefits would violate the same due process protection.
He goes on to mention that the only reason why the Department of Justice was enforcing them was because the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — the same folks who defended DOMA — were still defending them. Since BLAG recently dropped that case, Holder saw no reason to keep enforcing the discriminatory portions of the law even without having a clear court ruling on those portions specifically. Continuing to enforce those previsions would only have “tangible adverse effects” on same-sex spouses of veterans.
It’s a win, and one more stop on the road to full equality.