Washington, D.C. (Link) –House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith introduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2012, a bill designed to ensure equality for military and veteran benefits for all military spouses.
“While the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a tremendous step forward, there is more that can be done to ensure that the rights of all of our services members and their spouse, regardless of whether they are of the same-sex or opposite-sex as the service member, are protected,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “What this bill does is simple: if veterans or service members have a spouse of the same-sex, then their spouse will be afforded the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. Spouses of service members should not be prevented from receiving the benefits they have earned simply because they are the same sex as their partner. This discriminatory practice must come to an end.”
Currently, the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs are limited in what benefits may be made available to the spouses of same-sex couples. The Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2012 remedies this discriminatory practice by changing the definition of spouse in the relevant sections of United States code to state: “an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place in which the marriage was entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”
This change will require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state, the District of Columbia, commonwealths, territories or possessions and provide the same benefits to the spouses of all service members.