DOMA ruling will bring Fort Lee couple military spousal benefits
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –The wave of euphoria outside the Supreme Court is washing over gay rights supporters here in Richmond, and Crystal Ruiz De Velasco is no exception.
Ruiz De Velasco was married in Washington, D.C. last year to her wife, Chris, a soldier stationed at Ft. Lee.
“I was so overly excited. I love my wife and I’ll follow her anywhere,” says Ruiz De Velasco.
The Supreme Court’s decision to squash the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, means she’ll be eligible for 1,100 federal benefits including military housing that she previously had been denied.
“Because I’m denied that right, because in the eyes of the Defense Department I’m not a military spouse. Health care is important, as well as survivor benefits– which is huge,” says Ruiz De Velasco.
The majority of Supreme Court justices also ruled not to interfere with a California court’s decision banning Proposition 8, the controversial law outlawing same sex marriage. Gay Rights supporters say it moves the country closer to legalizing gay marriage.
“This was a big historic foot forward. It’s going to happen. It’s only a matter of time. The clock is running,” says Rev. Robin Gorsline.
While gay rights advocates cheer the Supreme Court’s decision as a double victory, the Family Foundation’s Chris Freund says not fast. Freund says the justices’ decision not to wade into the Prop 8 debate actually protects Virginia’s law defining marriage as union between a man and woman.
“Children do best when they have a mom and a dad,” says Freund. “I think that is something to note that is a big loss for same-sex advocates who asked the court to find it constitutional in 50 states and they didn’t do that.”
CBS6 Political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth says this political hot potato will energize the gubernatorial campaigns of Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe this fall.
“Well we have had a dramatic shift in American public opinion in the last four of five years,” says Holsworth. “They’re both going to try to mobilize and energize their supporters around it and people around the country will be watching what happens politically in this issue in the upcoming election in November.”
As for Crystal Ruiz De Velasco, the military spouse will celebrate the high court’s ruling with her wife, but is vowing to keep up the fight for gays and lesbians who are denied the same benefits.
“The fight is not over,” says Ruiz De Velasco. “That tiny piece of paper means a lot to the both of us. And one day it will be recognized in all states, it is just going to take some time.”