Military Law

Federal judge rules military can't deny survivor benefits to veteran's same-sex spouse


The U.S. military can’t deny spousal benefits for individuals in same-sex marriages, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled Thursday, because doing so serves no purpose.

The case was filed by Tracey and Maggie Cooper-Harris, Reuters and CNN report. The couple married in 2008. Tracey Cooper-Harris, a U.S. Army veteran, served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In an order (PDF) granting the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement, U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall notes the plaintiff argument that says the purpose of military spouse benefits is to ensure service members do their best work and make it easier to recruit people.

“The denial of benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages is not rationally related to any of these military purposes,” the order states.

Tracey Cooper-Harris was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010. According to Reuters, the Department of Veterans Affairs told Tracey Cooper-Harris that if she died, her spouse would not qualify for survivor benefits.

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