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Landmark Case

Frontiero v. Richardson

Case Number


Equality in the Armed Forces

Lieutenant Sharron Frontiero joined the Air Force in 1968. She married Joseph, a full-time student receiving veteran's benefits, in 1969. The newlyweds simply asked for the same housing, medical, and dental benefits provided to married male officers but were denied.

In 1970, the Center helped the Frontieros sue the Department of Defense to extend those benefits to married servicewomen and their spouses. They argued that there was no rational basis for the regulation on which the denial of benefits was based.

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Air Force regulation was discriminatory and violated the 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process under the law. The case became the first successful sex discrimination lawsuit against the federal government.

The landmark decision helped pave the way for servicewomen to receive equal benefits and for all women to receive equal treatment under the law.