New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation restoring benefits eligibility for LGBTQ veterans who were denied of an honorable discharge due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Governor’s office noted that hundreds of thousands of veterans received less than honorable discharges under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other similar policies. As a result, these individuals are not qualified to receive veterans’ benefits.
The Restoration of Honor Act
The newly-signed Restoration of Honor Act gives LGBTQ veterans the right to apply for the restoration of their New York State veterans benefits.
Additionally, the law restores benefits eligibility for those who received less than honorable discharges because of military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic disorder.
New York is the first state in the country to restore benefits for veterans who received less than honorable discharges because of their LGBTQ identity or traumas.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo said the state through the Restoration of Honor Act is “sending a message to LGBTQ veterans that we have their backs, just as they had ours.”
The Governor noted that many veterans were discharged from the military because of their gender identity or sexual orientation and were denied of the benefits and services they deserve as members of the armed forces. He called such action an “insult” to veterans who fought to protect the United States and defend its ideals.
New York State is ending the injustice to LGBTQ veterans
On the other hand, Senator Brad Hoylman said his office found LGBTQ veterans were denied of more than 50 state benefits due to the status of their military discharge.
“We are finally addressing this injustice by passing the Restoration of Honor Act,” said Sen. Hoylman.
On the other hand, Assembly Member Didi Barrett, commented, “The brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms are owed nothing but respect and support when they return home.”
She added, “Yet sadly, this has not been the case for too many of our veterans in the LGBTQ community, those suffering from trauma, and those struggling with mental and behavioral health disorders. ‘Bad papers’ shouldn’t prevent service men and women from accessing the benefits and resources they’ve earned when they return home. With the enacted Restoration of Honor Act, we can finally put this immoral practice to an end.”
Sen. Hoylman and Assembly Member Barret co-sponsored the Restoration of Honor Act.