The Obama administration announced Wednesday (September 4) that the president has directed the Executive Branch to allow same-sex spouses of military veterans to collect federal benefits. The move, announced by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in U.S. v. Windsor that struck a key section of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
Under the new policy, the administration will no longer enforce statutory language governing the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense “that restricts the awarding of spousal benefits to opposite-sex marriages only,” White House officials stated Wednesday.
The language is contained within Title 38 of the U.S. Code. Holder wrote to Congressional leaders, “Although the Supreme Court did not directly address the constitutionality of the Title 38 provisions in Windsor, the reasoning of the opinion strongly supports the conclusion that those provisions are unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.”
Last year, Holder informed Congress that the Justice Department wouldn’t defend the Title 38 provisions any more, but that the Executive Branch would continue to enforce them.
“Today’s announcement makes clear that enforcement of the provision in Title 38 defining marriage as between a man and a woman will now cease,” officials said Wednesday.
Out gay Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside) said in a news release that he’s “pleased” with the administration’s statements on DOMA.
However, he added, “The Executive Branch can, and should, do all that it can to root out the remaining pieces of this discriminatory law. No one, especially the brave men and women who put their life on the line for our country, should suffer because of who they love.”
Takano continued, “I firmly believe that the recent momentum for LGBT equality will continue and that justice will ultimately prevail.”