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Veterans in same-sex marriages to get assistance in Texas

The Department of Veterans Affairs is stepping up to offer advice and direction to those who have entered into same-sex marriages, taking steps to make sure that their rights are honored even as those rights have been changing. This is mostly in relation to the benefits that veterans can get, which could be denied to them based on regulations that should no longer be valid under federal law.

The issue is that the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the Supreme Court. Section 3 of that act stated directly that for someone to be considered a spouse in a court of law, they had to be of the opposite sex of the person to whom they were married. Since that has been overturned, people of the same sex can now federally be recognized as spouses as well.

However, it has come to light that some regulations used by the VA to govern benefits still use the older definition. On top of that, when determining whether a marriage counts in a legal sense, they are supposed to look at where the people involved are living, not the place where they actually got married. This could get in the way of their receiving benefits if they were legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage but then moved to another state that did not yet recognize it.

Those in same-sex marriages should know that the VA is working on their behalf to provide the assistance that they may need. If they feel they are not getting the VA benefits that they are entitled to, in Texas and elsewhere, they may want to look into their legal options.

Source: Lake Country Sun, "Veterans Corner: VA to provide guidance for same-sex marriages," June 26, 2014

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