What was Frontiero Vs.Richardson about?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Frontiero Vs.Richardson was a military court case where a U.S. Air Force female lieutenant, Sharron Frontiero, asked for her husband who was a war veteran and student,  to receive military dependent benefits (medical, dental, housing, etc.) the same way that military wives would have received them from their active duty husbands.

In December 23, 1970, the official complaint was filed in the District Court. By then the military had a very discriminatory practice where males would not be accepted as dependents of women, clearly violating the 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process under the law and, as the case reads prompting

dissimilar treatment for men and women who are similarly situated

The relief for Frontiero was denied by the Air Force in April 5th, 1972 (341 F. Supp. 201), for which Frontiero appealed to the Supreme Court and it was not until  May 14th 1973 that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the motion (411 U.S. 677).

This case was a breakthrough because it signified the first sexual discrimination case against the federal government which was ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Moreover, this marked the beginning of the military offering benefits to spouses male and female alike.

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