New & Noteworthy:

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), is a U.S. federal law that allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states and which restricted federal marriage benefits. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Section 3 of DOMA had codified the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns.

Section 3 of DOMA was found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional on June 26, 2013, “as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” [ Wikipedia → ]

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ExxonMobil to offer benefits to married, same-sex couples in U.S.

| Friday, September 27, 2013
Exxon-Mobil
NEW YORK -- Exxon Mobil Corp. said Friday that it will begin offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples in the U.S. for the first time starting next week.

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‘Religious Freedom’ bill an effort ‘to reincarnate the Defense of Marriage Act’

| Thursday, September 19, 2013
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
WASHINGTON -- A group of lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to "prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code" against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as between one man and one woman.

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USAF lesbian couple first to receive ‘Join Spouse’ assignment

| Saturday, September 14, 2013
Ryan Conroy, U.S. Air ForceTech. Sgt. Stacy Shunk, and Master Sgt. Angela Shunk.
Just three months after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, a lesbian couple in the U.S. Air Force has learned they will receive an assignment together under the service’s Join Spouse program, the first same-sex couple to obtain the joint assignment.

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GOP Senator targets revised marriage leave policy for gay service members

| Thursday, September 12, 2013
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
WASHINGTON -- A ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said this week that a newly revised Pentagon policy granting marriage leave for gay service members "legally fails to fix the issue of giving same-sex couples a special benefit."

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Guard commander asks Texas AG for legal opinion on same-sex military benefits

| Friday, September 6, 2013
Major Gen. John Nichols
AUSTIN, Texas -- The commander of the Texas National Guard is asking the state's attorney general for a legal opinion about whether he can process applications for military benefits for same-sex couples under a Pentagon directive even though gay marriage is banned in Texas.

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Obama administration will not enforce ban on same-sex veterans benefits

| Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Eric Holder
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said Wednesday it will stop enforcing a law that blocks benefits to partners of military veterans in same-sex marriages.

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Landmark same-sex marriage hearing approaches in Pa.

| Sunday, September 1, 2013
Matt Rourke, APEllen Toplin, right, and Charlene Kurland pose for photographs with their marriage license at a Montgomery County office on Wednesday, despite a state law banning such unions.
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- For two months, an elected court clerk in the Philadelphia suburbs has been giving something to same-sex couples they have not been able to get anywhere else: a Pennsylvania marriage license.

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Shaheen: Same-sex benefits bill should apply to Veterans Affairs

| Sunday, September 1, 2013
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
CONCORD, N.H. -- U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire says she's planning to move forward with her bill that would grant benefits to same-sex married couples in the military after learning that legislation is still necessary to grant veterans in same-sex marriages those same benefits.

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HHS announces first guidance implementing Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling

| Thursday, August 29, 2013
HHS-seal
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.

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Veterans Affairs says it will wait on expanding benefits to same-sex couples

| Tuesday, August 27, 2013
veterans-affairs
WASHINGTON - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says Congress or the courts still has more work to do before the VA can provide federal benefits to married, same-sex couples.

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