Navy veteran denied benefits over same sex marriage

By David Edwards
Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:33 EDT
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Carmen Cardona, an 18-year Navy veteran who is disabled, is suing the federal government after Veterans Affairs (VA) denied her benefits because she is married to a woman.

Cardona told The New York Times that she should have been eligible for additional benefits after she married her partner last year, but the VA regional office in Hartford denied her application on the basis that a spouse is defined by the federal government as “a person of the opposite sex.”

In filing their notice of appeal Thursday, Cardona’s legal team is expected to say that the ruling violates her Fifth Amendment right to due process. They will also argue that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same sex marriage, is unconstitutional.

“These challenges are bubbling up all over the place,” Stetson University College of Law professor Michael Allen told the paper. “With the recognition of same sex marriage in New York, a big state, you’ll see this more frequently.”

The White House announced in July that the president was “proud” to support legislation, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 federal same sex marriage ban.

President Barack Obama most recently called for the repeal of the DOMA during his keynote address to the Human Rights Campaign’s 15th Annual National Dinner.

The Obama administration also said in February that it would no longer defend DOMA in court.

While the president still does not support marriage equality, he hinted last year that his position could “evolve.”

Photo: Flickr/U.S. Navy

(H/T: The Political Notebook)

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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