Department of Justice won’t defend denial of same-sex spousal benefits to veterans

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WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter to Congress today, Attorney General Eric Holder told House Speaker John Boehner that the Department of Justice would no longer defend a law that denied spousal benefits to veterans in same-sex marriages.

The law, Title 38 under United States Code, defines a spouse as a person of the opposite sex. However, as it was written before the legalization of same-sex marriage in many states, Holder concluded that it was unconstitutional.

“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex spouses of veterans but not to legally married same­-sex spouses of veterans,” he explained in the letter. Holder goes on to say this statute parallels that in the Defense of Marriage Act he ruled unconstitutional last year.

Even though the Department of Justice will no longer defend Title 38, Congress can still seek to take up its defense as well as that of DOMA.