Governor signs bill to help gay veterans get vets benefits

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor has ceremoniously signed legislation to help veterans get state and local benefits after being discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it Friday at the State House. She officially signed it into effect as the legislative session ended in June.

The new law provides a petition process to have a discharge from service recorded as honorable for veterans who received a general or other than honorable discharge due solely to their sexual orientation. An honorable discharge is the only type that entails full benefits.

Democratic Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson, of Warwick, and Sen. Dawn Euer, of Newport, sponsored the bill.

While the state can’t reinstate federal veterans’ benefits, Vella-Wilkinson says it can take a “bold, compassionate step” to ensure state and local benefits are awarded.

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