Senate committee advances gay troops’ benefits bill

Washington Blade
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July 25, 2013
Issues: 
A Senate committee advanced legislation on Wednesday that would ensure married gay service members can receive benefits — including veteran’s benefits — for their same-sex spouses.
 
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approved by voice vote as part of a package of additional bills legislation known as the Charlie Morgan Act, which would change the definition of spouse in U.S. code governing troop benefits to ensure spousal benefits flow to gay service members.
 
The legislation is named after Charlie Morgan, a New Hampshire guardsman who battled incurable breast cancer as she was a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by gay troops against the Defense of Marriage Act. Morgan, who was seeking veteran’s benefits for her spouse, Karen Morgan, succumbed to the diseased in February before the Supreme Court struck down DOMA on June 26.
 
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement approval by the committee was a tribute to the late guardsman.
 
“Every individual who serves in uniform should have access to the benefits they’ve earned,” Shaheen said. “Charlie served on the front lines for our country, but because of her sexual orientation her family has been wrongfully being denied many of the same benefits given to those who stood beside her.”