The Obama administration on Wednesday announced that it will stop
enforcement of a law that blocks the spouses of gay veterans from
receiving equal benefits.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder
said that President Barack Obama had directed the executive branch to
stop enforcing the law. Holder said that he had made the
recommendation to the president.
The action comes less than a week after a federal judge in
California ruled unconstitutional the portion of the U.S. Code that
defines a spouse for the purpose of veterans' benefits to be a person
of the opposite sex.
rules VA can't deny veterans' benefits to married gay couple.)
“Decisions by the Executive not to enforce federal laws are
appropriately rare,” Holder said in his letter. “Nevertheless,
the unique circumstances presented here warrant non-enforcement.”
Holder noted the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense
of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that the provisions in the veterans
benefits law ran afoul of the court's June ruling.
“Indeed, following the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor,”
which struck down DOMA, “the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the
U.S. House of Representatives (BLAG) withdrew from pending litigation
challenging the constitutionality of the Title 38 provisions,”
Holder told Congress.
AP reported that the decision does not apply to gay couples who
live in a state that does not recognize their marriages. A spokesman
for the Department of Veterans Affairs said the issue is under
“There's no reason to treat veterans who live in one state
differently than veterans who happen to live in a state that doesn't
recognize them,” Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT advocate, told the
Holder's letter to Congress.)