The Southern Poverty Law Center is challenging in federal court the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris, a disabled veteran whom the law prevents from accessing the benefits as heterosexual veterans.
Harris served for 12 years in the U.S. Army and received multiple commendations. She has since been diagnosed with MS, a condition that has been connected to her military service. Yet, because the government and the Veterans Association use the legal definition of “spouse” to confer benefits, a definition that because of DOMA same-sex couples are carved out from, Harris finds herself unable to access the full range of financial support she and her partner would be able to have if she were in a heterosexual marriage.
Below is an SPLC video explaining the case and Harris’ background:
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, advances that DOMA is unconstitutional because it discriminates, without just cause, on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. The suit also tackles the V.A.’s narrow definition of the word “spouse.”
Image taken from the SPLC video, no infringement intended.