Carmen Cardona on Thursday will file an
appeal challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars the federal government from
recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Cardona last year married her wife in
Connecticut, one of six states where such unions are legal, after a
nine year engagement.
When the disabled Navy veteran applied
for an increase in her disability as a newlywed her application was
rejected. The Department of Veterans Affairs cited DOMA as the
Cardona's lawyers will file their
appeal before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The case is
believed to be the first to use the court in an attempt to chip away
at the law. If Cardona loses, she could ultimately argue her case
before the Supreme Court.
“I was in disbelief when I was
rejected,” Cardona, who served in the Navy for 18 years and was
honorably discharged in 2000, told The
New York Times. “I served
my country for so many years.”
“I just want to put it out to the
public for people like me. We worked hard for our country, we should
be able to receive the same benefits as heterosexuals.”