Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced a new bill that would recognize benefits for the spouses of military servicemembers and veterans. According to the bill, any marriage recognized by a state would have to be recognized by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments:
Notwithstanding section 7 of title 1, an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place in which the marriage was entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State. In this paragraph, the term ‘State’ means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories and possessions.
The question of military benefits for same-sex couples is at the heart of the case McLaughlin v. U.S. brought by eight married couples. Republican leadership in the House is defending the Defense of Marriage Act against the couples’ suit, arguing they are not deserving of equal benefits for service.