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MN congressman behind plan to ensure equal benefits for LGBT veterans

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - A congressman from Minnesota is sponsoring a bill to ensure equal military benefits for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered veterans. 

House Democrat Tim Walz says Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage creates inequities. He says same-sex couples in Minnesota would lose a host of VA benefits if they move to Wisconsin, where the state Constitution refuses to recognize gay marriage and civil unions. 

Walz says that's unfair. In his words, "When someone puts their life on the line to protect our freedom at home, they deserve to enjoy the same freedom and earned benefits as anyone else -- no matter who they love or where they reside." 

Walz's bill would also change the military's definition of a "spouse" and "surviving spouse," so LGBT couples can receive benefits throughout the country. 

He says those veterans and their families can be denied VA benefits such as life insurance, death pensions, and flag burial honors. 

Minnesota legalized gay marriages earlier this year. Neighboring Illinois is about to do the same.