Dem senator to Obama: End discrimination against gay veterans

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked the Obama administration to move more quickly to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples seeking veterans’ home loans.

“This discriminatory treatment in [Veterans Affairs] VA loans disrespects our service members, military veterans and their families,” Warner wrote in a letter to the president Friday. “I strongly believe that VA loan eligibility should be based on whether a couple is legally married, and not on whether their marriage is legally recognized where they reside when submitting the loan application.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Warner said the expedited change was needed because the administration announced last September that it would work to eliminate problems for same-sex couples by suspending Justice Department enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) after the Supreme Court ruled parts of that law were unconstitutional.

Warner criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for being slow to update its policies after the Supreme Court decision.

“As a result many veterans and their spouses are being turned down for benefits they have earned including VA backed home mortgages,” Warner wrote. “Six month after the Supreme Court decision, and four months after VA pledges to address this issue, VA regional officers continue to handle these requests on a case-by-case basis without clear guidance from the department.”

In his letter, Warner used the example of a Navy veteran and his nonmilitary spouse who applied for a veterans’ home loan in his home state but were denied equal benefits because the VA will not count the nonveteran spouse’s income. The couple was married in Maryland, a state that permits same-sex marriage, but the VA failed to insure their loan request to buy a home in Fairfax County, Va., resulting in a much higher monthly mortgage payment for the couple.

Warner said he hopes the VA fixes this problem nationwide and not just for states that recognize same-sex marriage.