VA Ordered to Obey Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs can no longer refuse to provide full benefits to a California veteran in a same-sex marriage based on its unique reading of a federal law, a federal judge ruled late Thursday. U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall of Los Angeles sided with 12-year Army veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris of Pasadena, Calif., who sued the VA for denying her full disability benefits because she is married to a woman. Cooper-Harris' case is just one of several in which the VA is a defendant over its belief that the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act didn't apply to the agency. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki argued in a letter to a senator that the federal code regulating veteran's benefits still defined a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex." But the federal judge declared that section of the law unconstitutional.

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