As the presidential race heats up, Republican candidates are jockeying to see who can present the most ignorantly aggressive foreign policy. Multiple candidates including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have all advocated for sending troops back to Iraq and to begin a fruitless war against Iran. They’re all willing to send our troops to die in a foreign land in a war that doesn’t really affect us, but are unwilling to provide equal benefits to LGBT veterans and their families.
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) proposed an amendment to allow the Department of Veterans to extend comprehensive benefits to same-sex couples that live in states where their marriages aren’t recognized. It failed by only seven votes, and not a single war hawk Republican candidate voted for it. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul both voted no, while Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham both abstained. A number of other notable warmongers also voted no, including the leader of the forty-seven traitors Tom Cotton (R-AR) and failed presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ).
Shaheen was very disappointed with the Senate’s refusal to pass the amendment: “Veterans served their country bravely, and yet some are deprived of the very rights they risked their lives to protect…the impact of this discrimination is real. Monthly benefits are less; spouses and children are not eligible for medical care at the VA; and families are not eligible for the same death benefits.”
The lost seven votes means that LGBT veterans and their families receive smaller disability payments, aren’t eligible for Veterans Affairs home loans, and deny VA healthcare to their spouses and children. It’s just the latest blow that the Republican Congress has dealt to our veterans, coming on the heels of revoking protections against predatory lending and increasing the spending for veterans’ healthcare.
The hypocrisy is mind-blowing. For all their fiery rhetoric about supporting our troops and the constant calls for America to return to war in the Middle East, the Republican Senate has shown time and time again that they care nothing for our veterans after they return home. It’s equally atrocious that these men who want to be President can justify discriminating against LGBT soldiers, who bravely embrace the same risks that every other soldier does and deserve the same benefits that every other veteran receives. Apparently we have enough money to throw $610 billion dollars a year at the Pentagon, which has lost track of $8.5 trillion of it since 1996, but the Senate can’t find a few spare dollars to make sure our veterans are treated well after they risk everything in the defense of our nation.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.