Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Denial of Spousal Benefits to Veterans in Same-Sex Marriage Found Unconstitutional


Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA decision, a U.S. district judge recently ruled that “[t]he U.S. military cannot deny spousal benefits to a lesbian veteran in a same-sex marriage.”  The invalidated portion of DOMA did not include the constitutionality of the statute limiting spousal benefits for veterans to those in heterosexual marriages.

Tracey Cooper-Harris served nine years in the U.S. Army and married her partner, Maggie, in 2008.  Tracey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and awarded disability compensation, but she was told her spouse did not qualify for survivor benefits if she were to die.

The judge found this denial of benefits was not rationally related to any military purpose and that the denial demeaned their marriage and Tracy’s sacrifices in the armed forces.

See Alex Dobuzinskis, Judge Rules U.S. Military Cannot Deny Benefits to Lesbian Veteran and Her Wife, Reuters, Aug. 30, 2013.


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