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Married same-sex couples will be eligible for veterans benefits

In a letter to U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) dated Sept. 4, Attorney General Eric Holder informed the Republican House Speaker that President Obama's administration will extend veterans benefits for married same-sex couples.

This comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling that struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Internal Revenue Service's Aug. 29 decision to allow same-sex married couples to file federal taxes together and share Medicare benefits.

Based on the court ruling, the administration will no longer enforce policies that restrict veteran benefits to legally married opposite-sex couples.

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National LGBT groups support efforts seeking federal investigation into killing of Trayvon Martin

More than 30 national LGBT groups signed onto a letter Monday showing support for organizations and community leaders asking the federal government to investigate the slaying of Trayvon Martin after his accused killer was acquitted.

The NAACP, which openly supports marriage equality, has a petition set up at its website and is asking people to sign it to demand the Obama administration file a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. The petition went up on Saturday, the day a 6-woman jury found Zimmerman not guilty in the killing of Martin, an African American teen who was 17 and unarmed and was returning to his family's house after walking to a nearby convenience store for tea and Skittles.

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Dept. of Justice cites Atlanta Eagle raid as example of anti-gay police harassment

In a federal court brief filed July 1, the Department of Justice cited the Atlanta Police Department's raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, as evidence of ongoing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Department of Justice filed the brief in the ongoing legal case involving federal employee Karen Golinski. The brief argues that the federal court should not dismiss her claim that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Golinski is suing the government for equal access to health benefits for her wife in a legal battle that has spanned some two years.

The brief, filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other defendants in the case, begins by saying "Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 ('DOMA'), unconstitutionally discriminates."

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DOJ would no longer defend DOMA in court over the constitutionality of Section 3 in several cases challenging the law.

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Turning point? Obama won’t defend Defense of Marriage Act

President Obama's administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA in court

President Obama’s administration made a blockbuster announcement Feb. 23, saying it has concluded that one part of the Defense of Marriage Act will not be able to pass constitutional muster in the 2nd Circuit and the Department of Justice would not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in that circuit.

“The president and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

The decision does not automatically overturn DOMA and does not mean that gay couples will now receive the federal benefits of marriage. The law still has to be repealed by Congress, which is unlikely in the near future, or struck down as unconstitutional by the courts.

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Obama DOMA decision could have major impact

Speaker of the House John Boehner expects the House to defend DOMA in court

Political decisions are a lot like oceanic earthquakes. First, there’s the quake, and then there’s the wave. Nobody can tell just how significant the wave is until it reaches land. Sometimes, the wave has greater impact than the earthquake; sometimes, it’s just a swell.

So it is with the decision by the Obama Department of Justice to call the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The news was a political earthquake for the LGBT community. Now, there’s the wait-and-see for how big an impact the announcement will have.

In this case, there are two waves to watch for: the legal and the political.