SENATE REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SAME-SEX MILITARY COUPLES

April 15, 2015

(WASHINGTON, DC) – This evening, the United States Senate voted in favor of a motion ending a discriminatory statute that limits Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits for same-sex couples. Currently, families in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized remain ineligible for certain VA benefits. The motion also supports extending Social Security benefits to same-sex couples. The language of the motion reflects the Shaheen-authored Charlie Morgan Act and directs Members of the House and Senate, who have been tasked with coming up with a budget agreement, to include these provisions in the budget.

Last month in a historic bipartisan vote, the Senate passed a budget amendment introduced by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that supported extending Social Security benefits to same-sex couples and ending a discriminatory statute that limits Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits for same-sex couples.

“This evening’s vote reaffirms the resolve of the Senate that no one who has served their country is denied the veterans benefits they’ve earned because of whom they love or where they live,” Shaheen said. “This amendment makes it perfectly clear that the Conference Committee should take the next step toward ending discrimination against these brave men and women once and for all.”

According to the Justice Department, the VA is unable to grant comprehensive benefits to same-sex couples in states that do not recognize such legal marriages. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen introduced The Charlie Morgan Act – legislation to address the lingering inequality by altering the definition of marriage in Title 38 of the Service Members Civil Relief Act to ensure that all veterans receive the federal benefits they’ve earned, regardless of their state of residency.