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U.S. Will Not Defend Prohibition on Same-Sex Military Benefits

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration said it won't defend laws that prohibit U.S. military service members from obtaining benefits for their same-sex spouses.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision today in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

The Justice Department last year said it would no longer defend the government against challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes of taxes, social security and other programs.

The Justice Department is taking the same position on other statutory provisions that “may affect the eligibility of same-sex couples for military and veterans’ benefits,” Holder said today in his letter.

Holder said the department’s position applies to challenges under the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at

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