On November 12, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation enacting The Restoration of Honor Act,* giving LGBTQ veterans who were denied an honorable discharge because of their sexual orientation or gender identity the right to apply to have their New York State veterans' benefits restored.
Under Don't Ask Don't Tell and similar policies hundreds of thousands of veterans** received less than honorable discharges. As a result of that those individuals are ineligible for veterans' benefits. Although discharge from federal military service decisions can only be formally changed by the federal government, The Restoration of Honor Act allows certain veterans to apply to claim their
benefits. New York State
The Restoration of Honor Act also restores benefits eligibility for veterans who received less than honorable discharges as a result of military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Restoration of Honor Act amends relevant provisions of the Executive Law, the Civil Service Law, the County Law, the Economic Development Law, the Education Law, the Election Law, the General Construction Law, the General Municipal Law, the Military Law, the Correction Law, the Environmental Conservation Law, the General Business Law, the Highway Law, the Insurance Law, the Judiciary Law, the Private Housing Finance Law, the Public Health Law, the Public Housing Law, the Public Officers Law, the Real Property Tax Law, the Social Services Law, the Tax Law, the Town Law, the Vehicle And Traffic Law, and the Workers' Compensation Law.
* Chapter 490 of the Law of 2019
** §350.3 of the Executive Law defines the term "veteran" as "a person, male or female, resident of this state, who has served in the active military or naval service of the United States during a war in which the United States engaged and who has been released from such service otherwise than by dishonorable discharge, or who has been furloughed to the reserve."