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Federal judge allows veteran's challenge to DOMA

Judge Consuelo Marshall of the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] on Monday allowed a US Army veteran's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] to move forward. Marshall refused to dismiss [AP report] the lawsuit despite the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] calling for the case to be dropped. The case arises out of a denial of medical benefits to which heterosexual married couples are entitled. Tracey and Maggie Cooper-Harris would be eligible for $150 more per month in disability benefits. The DOJ argues that the claim belongs in an administrative court because it is dealing with veteran's affairs. Marshall is expected to issue a written ruling at a later date.

The Cooper-Harris lawsuit was brought [JURIST report] in February of last year. A similar suit was appealed [JURIST report] to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims [official website] in October 2011 year by a disabled Navy veteran contesting the VA's refusal to allow her same-sex partner to collect a portion of her disability benefits. The veteran, Carmen Cardona, filed the suit after her claim for veterans' spousal benefits was denied under DOMA on the basis that she was in a same-sex marriage. The outcome of these cases is uncertain after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced in February of last year that it would no longer defend the constitutionality [JURIST report] of DOMA in court cases challenging the provision. A challenge to DOMA is currently pending [JURIST report] before the US Supreme Court [official website].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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