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A same-sex couple’s inability to get a veterans’ home loan in Colorado has prompted Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to ask the Obama administration to push harder to eliminate discrimination in veterans benefits.
The case involves an Air Force veteran and her nonmilitary spouse who applied for a veterans home loan but were rejected because the nonveteran spouse’s income was not counted.
The couple was married in a state that permits same-sex marriage but now lives in Colorado, which does not. A Udall spokesman said denial of the loan came from the Veterans Affairs Department, which underwrites loans submitted by lenders.
Discrimination on home loans could be eliminated if the Obama administration would consider the legality of a marriage in the state where it occured, rather than whether the couple is legally recognized as married in their current state of residence, Udall said in a letter to President Obama.
Udall did not publicly identify the Colorado couple.
This is exactly the type of problem anticipated by some lawmakers who sought to get legislation passed through Congress to remove gender bias from veterans’ benefits for same-sex couples after the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allow same-sex marriages to be recognized under federal law.
However, the Obama administration moved in September to eliminate problems for same-sex couples by suspending Justice Department enforcement of federal laws that appear to discriminate.
That announcement slowed efforts in Congress to change federal laws, an effort that was never a sure thing anyway because of strong opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to federal recognition of same-sex couples.
In a letter to Obama, Udall said the discrimination faced by the Colorado couple “is simply unacceptable.”
Udall is asking the administration to base eligibility for veterans’ benefits on whether the couple is legally married, and not on whether their marriage is legally recognized where they reside when applying for benefits.
“There is a universal feeling in this country that our service members, veterans and their families deserve respect and support during and after their service and the kind of discriminatory treatment this law furthers is simply unacceptable,” Udall said.