Tracey & Maggie Cooper-HarrisWhen the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it was easy to assume that the rights same-sex couples had been denied as a result of the law would be enstated ASAP. But that wasn't exactly the case. The law governing veterans' benefits, Title 38, still defined marriage as between opposite-sex spouses. So for couples like Tracy Cooper-Harris, a U.S. Army veterinarian who served in Iraq and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and her wife Maggie Cooper-Harris, it meant inequality still reigned and they were denied financial support for Tracy's medical costs that was readily available to heterosexual couples. That is ... until this week!
A federal court ruled on Wednesday that a married same-sex couple must be eligible for the same veteran benefits as married heterosexual couples. Hooray!!
Thank goodness this inequality has been set right. All you have to do is consider some embarrassing realities and cringeworthy facts to know veterans who are in same-sex marriages were getting the short end of the stick. For instance, according to her lawsuit, Cooper-Harris would be eligible for $124 more in aid were she married to a man. Ugh.
Now, in light of this ruling, the Cooper-Harrises should get what they rightfully deserve, as will so many other couples in their shoes. While the Dept. of Veterans' Affairs has yet to respond to the ruling, the director of the VA, Eric Shinseki, told Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire on August 14 that if Title 38 were "revised or determined to be unconstitutional," then the "VA will be prepared to update its policies and systems in a timely manner." Cheers. To. That!
What's your reaction to this ruling?
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