Armed Forces & Veterans
Effective September 20, 2011, openly gay and lesbian Americans may serve in the U.S. military due to the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, coupled with the downfall of Section 3 of the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” as a result of the Supreme Court’s June 2013 Windsor decision, will allow military gay and lesbian couples to be open about who they are and whom they love.
Soon after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, the U.S. Department of Defense ruled that no matter where a couple resides, as long as they enter into a legally recognized marriage, they will have access to all federal rights and benefits that accompany marriage, including the following:
· Protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, thus allowing employees to take unpaid time off to care for a sick or dying spouse;
· Benefits under federal tax law, including the ability to file joint federal tax returns, take certain deductions, and receive favorable tax treatment for receipt of benefits like health insurance;
· Access to spousal benefits for active duty U.S. military personnel, veterans, and civilian federal employees; and
· The right for spouses of military personnel to be buried alongside their loved ones in a veteran cemetery.
In June 2011, the U.S. Veterans Administration issued a directive requiring all its facilities to provide respectful, confidential health care to transgender veterans, including providing hormones and mental health care. The directive requires all VA staff to provide care to transgender patients “without discrimination in a manner consistent with care and management of all Veteran patients.”