'I can't have my final wishes carried out'
'I can't have my final wishes carried out'
Name : Tracey Cooper-Harris
Age: 39
Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.

Married since 2008, Tracey and Maggie have been trying to make ends meet in recent years. Tracey, an Army veteran, now works for the Department of Veteran Affairs. Maggie is an electrician's apprentice, but she hasn't been bringing in any income lately because there hasn't been enough work.

Since the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, Maggie is unable to receive spousal benefits through the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Complicating things, Tracey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010. Because the Department of Veteran Affairs determined the condition to be connected with her military service, Tracey qualifies for disability benefits of about $1,400 a month -- which helps to cover medicine and doctor's visits. Maggie, however, isn't recognized as a dependent by the government so she is unable to receive the extra $125 a month in disability benefits she would get if she were a male spouse.

This year, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs on Tracey's behalf for denying disability benefits to Tracey and her wife.

"I'm just asking for the same exact benefits that my fellow heterosexual veterans get that I don't," she said. "There's a very high likelihood that this disease will take my life, and if that happens, there are benefits in death that Maggie would get if she were a man."

Those benefits include bereavement counseling and indemnity compensation -- which is a monthly stipend if a service-related condition causes a person's death, she said.

Under the current rules, she said Maggie wouldn't even be able to be buried next to her in a state or national veterans' cemetery. "Even in death I can't have my final wishes carried out."


By Blake Ellis @CNNMoney - Last updated May 14 2012: 8:05 PM ET
Gay marriage: Boost in 'economic inequities' fight

Advocates are hopeful that President Obama's decision to support same-sex marriage will bring gay couples one step closer to equal treatment on taxes, Social Security and other important financial matters.

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