The Department of Veteran Affairs is dedicated to serving all eligible service members, Veterans and their families. It also recognizes the existing diversity within this population, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. VA is committed to providing outreach to diverse service member and Veteran populations and has provided guidance on how under current Federal law VA may recognize marriage.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. Accordingly, VA may now recognize all same-sex marriages without regard to a Veteran’s state of residence. VA has developed guidance to process cases involving same-sex spousal benefits, and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all our nation's Veterans. All Veterans in same-sex marriages who believe they are entitled to benefits should therefore promptly apply for benefits. Furthermore, Veterans whose claims were previously denied based on prior guidance should re-apply for benefits.
The Defense Department, in their ongoing review of military benefits in connection with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," identified the following VA benefits for which service members may designate beneficiaries of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation:
In addition, there are other benefits for Servicemembers provided by DoD for which LGBT service members may designate a beneficiary regardless of sexual orientation. Learn about those DoD programs on the Defense Department's DADT website.
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Last updated January 17, 2024