The Department of Veteran Affairs is dedicated to serving all eligible Servicemembers, Veterans and their families. It also recognizes the existing diversity within this population, including the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) community. VA is committed to providing outreach to diverse Service and Veteran populations and has provided guidance on how under current Federal law VA may recognize marriage.
On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court held in the United States v. Windsor that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act "DOMA", which limited the terms "marriage" and "spouse" for purposes of Federal statutes, regulations, or rulings, to only include persons of the opposite sex, is unconstitutional. On September 4, 2013, the Attorney General informed Congress that the President has directed the Executive Branch to cease enforcement of similar provisions in sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38 of the United States Code to the extent those provisions preclude recognition of legally valid marriages of same-sex couples.
In light of the President's direction, VA is no longer denying marital benefit claims because a "spouse" or a "surviving spouse" is not a person of the opposite sex. VA is working closely with the Department of Justice to develop guidance to process cases involving same-sex spousal benefits, and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all our nation's Veterans. However, even as VA works to implement the President's decision, VA recognizes that there may be certain situations in which current statutes and variations in state law may preclude VA from providing spousal benefits to same-sex married couples.
The Defense Department, in their ongoing review of military benefits in connection with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," identified the following VA benefits for which Servicemembers may designate beneficiaries of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation:
In addition, there are other benefits for Servicemembers provided by DoD for which LGB Servicemembers may designate a beneficiary regardless of sexual orientation. Learn about those DoD programs on the Defense Department's DADT website.
Veterans Crisis Line:
1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs | 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington DC 20420
Last updated November 25, 2014