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].