Veterans Benefits Extended to Same-Sex Married Couples

Williams Institute | September 5, 2013

Spouses of the nation’s estimated 607,000 LGBT veterans could potentially benefit from the Obama Administration’s decision today to allow same-sex spouses of military veterans to collect federal benefits. While the number of legally married military veterans is unknown, nearly 85,000 same-sex couples include at least one spouse/partner who is a veteran and approximately 4,500 same-sex couples include a spouse/partner on active duty, according to data collected by Gallup and the American Community Survey.

The Administration’s new policy means it will no longer enforce statutory language governing the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) that restricts the awarding of spousal benefits to opposite-sex marriages only. According to a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Congressional leaders, the Administration concluded that the restrictive statutory language is unconstitutional, given the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage act in United States v. Windsor.

Click here for the demographic report, “Same-sex and Different-sex Couples in the American Community Survey: 2005-2011.”

Click here for official U.S. Dept.of Justice press release.

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