John M. Becker

House Republicans Torpedo Spousal Benefits for Gay Vets

Filed By John M. Becker | September 11, 2014 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gay soldiers, GOP 2014, LGBT soldiers, Republican Party, spousal benefits, VA, Veterans Administration

CapitolHill.JPGYesterday, the Republican-controlled U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs voted 13-12 to reject a measure that would have granted equal benefits to same-sex military spouses, regardless of where they lived.

The measure, which would have brought VA policy into line with Defense Department guidelines on the treatment of the same-sex spouses of active-duty servicemembers, was defeated almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans voting against it. Just one Republican -- Rep. Jon Runyan of New Jersey -- broke ranks with his party and cast his vote in support of the proposal.

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade reports:

Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said he opposed the amendment because it would interfere with states that have enacted laws related to marriage.

"Deference to the state is not motivated by hostility, it is motivated by adherence to the Constitution," Miller said. "As such, I believe that it is not appropriate to usurp the states' power to democratically define marriage for their citizenry -- not for personal belief, and not for bureaucratic convenience."

In his remarks, Miller invoked a recent federal court decision upholding Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage as evidence that state laws are still standing that restrict marriage to one man, one woman. That decision upholding Lousiana's marriage ban is one among more than 35 other rulings that have overturned prohibitions on same-sex marriage in other states.

The Human Rights Campaign adds:

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, most agencies across the federal government - including the Department of Defense - began recognizing all legally married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live. But because of an inconsistency in the law that regulates veterans' benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs has only been recognizing married same-sex couples in states that have marriage equality. That means that legally married service members can receive the federal benefits they have earned from the Department of Defense, but the minute that they retire, the Department of Veterans Affairs could treat them as legal strangers if they don't live in the right state.

What a profoundly un-American thing to do. This deplorable stunt proves yet again that the Republican Party is a national disgrace -- the same band of bigots who booed an active-duty soldier during the last presidential election cycle because that soldier is gay.

The next time you hear a Republican thumping their chest and blowing hot air about how much their party "supports the troops," call shenanigans.

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