Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide Friday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed it will begin issuing spousal benefits to LGB veterans. The announcement came Monday and is in direct correlation to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Benefits will include disability pay, home loan guarantees, death pensions, and burial rights.
“VA will work quickly to ensure that all offices and employees are provided guidance on implementing this important decision with respect to all programs, statutes, and regulations administered by VA,” a statement Monday read.
OutServe-SLDN Interim Executive Director Matt Thorn said, “With the Supreme Court decision efficiently answering any lingering questions and closing this ‘loophole’ as it pertains to Title 38 of the U.S. Code, OutServe-SLDN applauds the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in providing benefits to our LGB veterans and their families to ensure that all have access to their earned VA benefits, regardless of their state of residence and sexual orientation.”
Thorn added, “This is a critical step that will help to make sure that every lesbian, gay and bisexual U.S. veteran and their family has the same access to the benefits that they have earned in their service to our country.”
Thorn said the ruling was long overdue.
“Our LGB veterans should never have been denied these benefits because of the state they live in or because of their sexual orientation. LGB veterans and their families deserve and will now have the respect, dignity and protections that they have earned. Giving these benefits was and is the right thing to do. It is the American thing to do.”
The motion will cover all 50 states, but each state will still have jurisdiction over their own residents.The Veterans Affairs Department will send out new guidance to all staff and will temporarily halt any benefit applications that would have been denied under previous guidelines.