Carmen Cardona is an honorably discharged 18-year Naval veteran with disabilities. She is also gay and legally married to her same-sex spouse. She is now suing the U.S. Government to have her partner included as a recipient of Cardona’s veterans’ benefits, according to an article on NBC.com.
The federal government does not acknowledge same-sex marriages, so where this case is going to be heard probably makes this case “the first of its kind.” Due to the subject matter Cardona is appealing her suit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Cardona and her wife were legally married in 2010 in Connecticut. Soon after, Cardona applied for spousal benefits from The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which denied her claim. This is because under the VA, there is a statute refusing to recognize same-sex marriages, despite the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell bill being repealed.
The VA is not disputing the validity or legality of Cardona’s marriage. Rather, Cardona’s spousal benefit application was denied under statute. Cardona plans to argue the denial of her claim is a violation of her rights under the 5th Amendment. Her suit is also going to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which essentially allows the federal government to discriminate against gay soldiers and veterans, according to Cardona.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-888-234-5758.