Air Force

February 15, 2013

Same-sex couples can claim new benefits by October

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Military members and retirees with same-sex partners will qualify for up to 24 new benefits under policy changes Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced, Feb. 11.

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The secretary wrote, “In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the department to construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ without regard to sexual orientation and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. The domestic partnership declaration is not 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.


 
 

 
Untitled-1

Seven little known facts about Memorial Day

As Americans get ready to observe Memorial Day with travel, family get-togethers and celebrations, let us not forget—it’s not about the BBQ. Memorial Day is observed specifically to remember those who gave the ultimate sacr...
 
 

Increased mission requirements open doors for continued military service

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to meet increased mission requirements outlined in the fiscal year 2016 President’s Budget. In order to enhance operational and mission capacity in support of combatant commanders, and to maintain readiness, the Air Force is setting a minimum active-duty force level of 317,000...
 
 
Natl-Better-Hearing-and-Speech-Month

Knowing signs of hearing loss, speech disorder are vital to well-being

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, where we seek to raise awareness about communication disorders and learning how to recognize their signs. Below are things you should know, from the American Speech and Language Hearing A...
 

 

Quarterly Awards: best of the best highlighted

Airman of the Quarter: Senior Airman Dominique Acuna, integrated flight control specialist, 452nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.   NCO of the Quarter: Tech. Sgt. Ruben Davis, mental health craftsman, 752nd Medical Squadron.   SNCO of the Quarter: Master Sgt. Christopher Jugas, non-commissioned officer in charge of training, 452nd Security Forces Squadron.
 
 
DoD
AFN photo/Charlie Gill

Robert Sekula, man of many hats

AFN photo/Charlie Gill Robert Sekula, a broadcast journalist/producer working at the American Forces Network Broadcast Center, one of March Air Reserve Base’s mission partners, wears many hats. Robert Sekula’s ever-present ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer

Recruits swear in at Military Appreciation Night

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer Lt. Col. Erin Meinders, commander, 362nd Recruiting Squadron, swears in 13 new recruits to the Air Force Reserve, during the Inland Empire 66ers Military Appreciation Night ...
 




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