Here's a little more background info:A New Hampshire senator vowed Tuesday to press ahead on legislation to provide full veterans benefits to same-sex couples after the Veterans Affairs Department determined changes in law are required to ensure all couples are treated the same.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee already has passed the measure, S 373, but had been waiting to hear from VA about whether the legislation was even necessary to provide equal benefits to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., the chief sponsor of bill, said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki wrote her on Aug. 14 to say VA and the Justice Department had determined changes in law were required.
Some provisions of law involving veterans benefits define “spouse” and “surviving spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex,” Shinseki said in the letter. “Under these provisions, a same-sex marriage recognized by a state would not confer spousal status for purposes of eligibility for VA benefits,” he said. - Navy Times, 8/27/13
Shaheen's been pushing the Charlie Morgan Act for a while now:Shaheen’s bill is called the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act, named for National Guard chief warrant officer who died earlier this year, leaving behind a wife, Karen, and a daughter who were not eligible for survivor benefits. There is a similar House bill, HR 683, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Smith’s bill is pending before the armed services subcommittee on military personnel.
Shaheen’s measure was approved July 24 by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee but the measure has not yet been cleared for floor debate in the full Senate. One holdup is that the Congressional Budget Office has not yet prepared a cost estimate for the bill, which will increase VA expenses for disability and survivors benefits.
The bill would consider a person a spouse for the purpose of receiving military and benefits as long as the couple’s marriage was legal. This would apply to couples married in the U.S. or to marriages outside the U.S. that are recognized as valid within the U.S. - Air Force Times, 8/27/13
Lord knows we need to get the Charlie Morgan Act approved now more than ever. Please call your Senator and Congressman and tell them to pass the Charlie Morgan Act:Shaheen, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), introduced the The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act earlier this year. The bill would ensure same-sex veteran couples received the same benefits as opposite-sex veteran couples.
“We need to pass the Charlie Morgan Act to bring Department of Veterans Affairs benefits policy in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA. I’m committed to making this happen,” Shaheen said Tuesday in a statement. “Every individual who serves in uniform deserves access to the benefits that they’ve earned and rightfully deserve. We can’t tolerate this type of discrimination, especially in the aftermath of a historic Supreme Court ruling that declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.”
The Defense Department will extend spousal and family benefits to same-sex spouses by September 3. - Raw Story, 8/27/13
And while you're add it, how about thanking Shaheen for continuing to fight for equality in our military by donating to her 2014 re-election campaign: