The VA Is Denying a Gay Dallas Veteran and His Husband Housing Benefits, Because Texas
In September, on the heels of the landmark Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which entitled legally married gay and lesbian couples to the same federal perks as their heterosexual counterparts, the Obama administration declared that the opinion encompassed military veteran's benefits.
So that should mean that the Veterans Affairs should count the salary of former Army Sergeant Earl Rector's husband when deciding whether to guarantee his loan for the home he is preparing to close on, right?
But no. "We found out yesterday that VA told our lender that they would not guarantee the loan" despite the fact that the couple had been pre-approved weeks ago, Rector told The Marine Times on Tuesday.
The VA apparently doesn't count the salary of same-sex spouses when considering home loans and thus won't guarantee Rector's. That means significantly higher interest rates and an extra $400 monthly payment that Rector and his husband, Alan Rodriguez, say they can't afford.
It's a relatively minor bureaucratic wrinkle given the military's historic position on homosexuality, but it's put Rector and Rodriguez in an awkward spot. They've already sold their Gaston Avenue home, according to property records, and they say they'll be liable for breach of contract on their new one if they can't get the financing straightened out.
And their case highlights the ongoing challenges of refitting a federal system built to exclude same-sex couples. Same with the case of the Texas National Guard, which until recently refused to comply with the Obama administration's directives.
Lambda Legal attorney Ken Upton told Lone Star Q that, while the Department of Defense has stopped enforcing Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, there is a separate statute saying that the determination of whether someone is the spouse of a veteran is made "according to the law of the place where the parties resided at the time of the marriage or the law of the place where the parties resided when the right to benefits accrued."
Since Texas' constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is in effect, then Rodriguez wouldn't be considered Rector's spouse under the law.
Upton said "the tie to place of domicile to determine marital status has not been finally resolved."
Colorado Senator Mark Udall has called on Obama to stop enforcing that statute. That hasn't happened yet.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.