Joe Krumbach fought for years to obtain legal recognition of his marriage to his deceased husband and decorated veteran, Jerry Hatcher. The couple had a marriage ceremony in Seattle in 2003, at a time when Washington still had an unconstitutional law on the books that purported to ban marriages of same-sex couples.
Before we met Joe, he had sought unsuccessfully to have the Washington Department of Health (DOH) amend Jerry’s death certificate so that it indicated the couple was married. Joe had also been denied benefits as a surviving spouse of a veteran by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both denials were on the grounds that Washington State did not permit same-sex couples to marry until after Jerry had died.
We helped Joe obtain an amended death certificate from the DOH, which he received in August. But our advocacy wasn’t over, as Joe was still denied VA benefits. Until now!
The VA finally recognized Joe and Jerry’s marriage and granted Joe benefits as Jerry’s surviving spouse. With this victory, we are another step closer to seeing the promise of marriage equality become a lived reality for all same-sex couples in Washington State.
Special thanks to Senator Patty Murray and her staff for their help urging the VA appeal through. “While our state and our country have come so far in ensuring all couples have the right to marry, it is critical that spouses receive the benefits they deserve,” said Senator Murray. “I am proud my office was able to work with Joe and Legal Voice to help make this happen.”
– In historic decision, gay islander wins legal battle for military benefits, Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber 11/11/15
– Gay widower finally gets what he deserves from VA, The Seattle Times 12/21/15