DoD

February 15, 2013

Same-sex couples can claim new benefits by October

WASHINGTON — Military members and retirees with same-sex partners will qualify for up to 24 new benefits under policy changes Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Monday.

In a memo to the service chiefs outlining the new policy, Panetta noted the department has “essentially completed” repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that barred gay and lesbian military members from serving openly.

Now, the secretary wrote to the chiefs, military leaders’ work must “expand to changing our policies and practices to ensure fairness and equal treatment and to taking care of all of our service members and their Families, to the extent allowable under law.”

Two of the new benefits are available at the service member’s election: hospital visitation and Family Readiness Group membership. For 22 other benefits, service members and their same-sex partners may file a “declaration of domestic partnership.” That declaration entitles same-sex partners to military identification cards, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, child care and youth programs, sexual assault counseling and other benefits.

Housing, medical and dental care and overseas command sponsorship for same-sex partners are not included in this round of policy changes. As Panetta noted in a statement, those benefits are restricted under the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA, which defines “spouse” as someone married to a person of the opposite sex. The Supreme Court is reviewing the law, and is expected to rule on it later this year.

The secretary wrote, “In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the department to construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ without regard to sexual orientation, and married couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, and their dependents, will be granted full military benefits.”

A senior Pentagon official emphasized in a briefing to Pentagon reporters today that benefit changes will happen as soon as possible. Panetta’s guidance to the services directed they make “every effort” to have systems in place to accept same-sex benefit requests by Aug. 31.

In no case, he wrote, may the services delay beyond Oct. 1 in rolling out the benefits.

Rolling out a new benefit takes time, the official said, as regulations and instructions, systems and software all have to be updated, and workers will need to be trained in new processes.

“Normally, we’re looking at a year” to make such changes, the official noted. “This is a very ambitious schedule; we’re really pressing hard to do this.”

Another official said the Defense Department is working to see if the housing benefit can be added to the list and is developing a mechanism to allow burial of same-sex partners at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. The domestic partnership declaration isn’t feasible in cases where one or both partners have died, the second official added.

Retirees and their same-sex partners will be able to file the declaration once the new systems are in place. The first official estimated that 5,600 same-sex couples include an active-duty service member, 3,400 include a Reserve or National Guard member, and 8,000 include a retired military member. The cost of implementing the new benefits, the official added, would be negligible.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
DoD

DOD recognizes commitment to prevent sexual assault

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department Wednesday honored exceptional groups and individuals from each military component who contributed an innovative idea or approach to positively impact sexual assault prevention and response programs. The Sexual Assault Prevention Innovation Award recognizes Service members and DOD Civilians whose work in support of service members has been particularly notew...
 
 
DoD

Air Force: AF to implement TDY policy changes

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) — The Air Force recently implemented two TDY policy changes that will impact travel reimbursements for Airmen. The first change, which took effect Oct. 1, made changes to the Joint Travel Regulations, Reimbursable and Incidental Expense Policy. The second will be a change in long-term TDY per diem expenses...
 
 
DoD
Marines

Marines: Diversity to Corps — Hispanic Heritage Month

Pfc. Pablo Zacari, administrative clerk with 9th Marine Corps District works on a submission to the unit diary Monday. Zacari is proud of what he does in the Marine Corps, administrative support of the district headquarters. GR...
 

 
DoD

TRANSCOM, SDDC team addressing critical POV shipping concerns

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Transportation experts from U.S. Transportation Command and Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command formed a fusion team in May to more quickly evaluate and address critical issues affecting the U.S. military’s privately owned vehicle shipping program. On May 1, International Auto Logistics assumed responsibility for the Global Privately Owned...
 
 
DoD
2nd Lt. Lauren Linscott, USAF

Air Force: For Dyess maintainers, little shop pays big dividends

2nd Lt. Lauren Linscott, USAF Senior Airman Jonathan Beres solders a C130J Super Hercules emergency light circuit board at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Beres is a technician with the 7th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair/Enhan...
 
 
DoD
Marines

Marines: Corps’ ‘pit crew’ is aircraft maintenance personnel

Cpl. Michael Hinds, an airframes mechanic with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, works on an FA-18 Hornet Sunday during Forager F...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin