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Veterans' Same-Sex Spouses Eligible for Federal Benefits

3:25 PM, Sep 4, 2013   |    comments
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By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- Same-sex spouses of military veterans are the latest beneficiaries of the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

President Obama directed his administration on Wednesday to allow veterans' spouses to collect federal benefits, regardless of their sexual orientation. Until now, both the Veterans Administration and the Defense Department restricted those benefits to heterosexual spouses.

The announcement follows a decision by congressional backers of the Defense of Marriage Act to drop their opposition to same-sex benefits, as well as a federal district court's ruling that the old policy was unconstitutional.

The administration announced last week that legally married same-sex couples can file joint tax returns, a move that will allow them to take advantage of all federal tax benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Other changes have been made by a variety of federal agencies to comply with the high court's ruling, which struck down the ban on federal benefits to same-sex couples.

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