Look for rainbow flags to start flying at state-run veterans homes.
On New Year’s Eve, Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office issued an opinion stating that gay, lesbian and transgender military vets living in California are entitled to all state-funded veteran benefits, including veterans’ housing. And, yep, their same-sex domestic partners are covered too.
“We take this opportunity,” Los Angeles-based Deputy AG Marc Nolan wrote, “to make clear that, under the laws of California, neither military veterans nor their registered domestic partners may be discriminated against in the provision of state-funded veterans’ benefits on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation, the federal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy notwithstanding.”
The opinion had been sought by the California Commission on the Status of Women, which noted that the federal policy has contributed to “a widespread belief among military veterans that discrimination against LGBT veterans is acceptable in any military setting.”
The opinion notes that state anti-discrimination laws prevent the denial of state-funded benefits, including preferences in civil service exams, college tuition waivers and property tax exemptions.
Even gays and lesbians discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation get the benefits.
“It does not appear that a service member’s sexual orientation, in and of itself,” Nolan wrote, “will cause him or her to receive an ‘other than honorable conditions’ discharge, and this will be true even if the member’s sexual orientation formed the basis of a ‘homosexual conduct’ separation from service under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
Look for disco nights at the veterans homes. The Village People’s “In the Navy” will likely be a popular request.
— Mike McKee