October 14, 2022

Chairman Takano Praises VA’s Decision to Close Gap in Benefits for LGBTQ+ Veterans and Survivors

Press Contact

Miguel R. Salazar (202) 779-1486

RIVERSIDE, CA – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following statement supporting VA’s action to close the gap in survivor benefits for certain survivors of LGBTQ+ veterans. This ruling immediately impacts LGBTQ+ veterans who were unable to wed until the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, and who were not married to their now-deceased veteran spouses for long enough to qualify for survivor benefits. 

“I commend Secretary McDonough and VA for taking this necessary step to close the gap that prevented many LGBTQ+ veterans and their survivors from accessing their earned benefits,” said Chairman Takano. “LGBTQ+ veterans served our country with patriotism and pride, often while hiding their true selves from those around them. While VA's action helps correct generations of policies that unfairly discriminated against LGBTQ+ veterans and their survivors, there is still more to do to ensure all veterans have equitable access to the care and benefits they’ve earned.” 

Background: For decades, LGBTQ+ veterans faced intense discrimination during their time in the military and after. Earlier this year, in order to help ensure servicemembers are never again barred from service based on gender identity or sexual orientation,Chairman Takano, House Armed Service Committee Chairman Adam Smith, and Representative Jackie Speier called on the Department of Defense to conduct conduct historical research and carry out surveys related to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the military to ensure servicemembers are never again barred from service based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In March of 2021, Chairman Takano introduced the Commission on LGBT Servicemembers and Veterans Act to identify the impacts of discriminatory policies on LGBTQ+ servicemembers and make recommendations to correct those injustices. Last October – ten years after the official repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Chairman Takano led Committee members in a letter applauding VA for its new rule to ensure veterans can finally access the care and benefits they’ve earned.