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The secretary wrote, “In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the department to construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ without regard to sexual orientation and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.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher

Rising Six adds splash of color to drill weekends

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher Runners are dowsed with color by volunteers as they round the last station before crossing the finish line during the 5K Fun Color Run Aug. 9, hosted by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing ...
 
 

B-17 duty was tiring yet memorable

(Second in an 11-part series that was first run in the Beacon in 2007) B-17 Flying Fortresses were noisy, cold and reliable, men who flew and repaired them for the 452nd Bombardment Group recall. “It was so loud, I could yell in the pilot’s ear from six inches away and he couldn’t hear me,” said...
 
 

Service members receiving RAND Military Workplace Survey

FORT MEADE, Md. — About 580,000 service members have begun receiving emails or letters inviting them to participate in the first RAND Military Workplace Study, Defense Department officials said. Active and reserve component members in all military branches and the Coast Guard are being invited to participate. “The survey is unprecedented in its scale and...
 

 

452 Aerial Port Support Flight hosts Marine training operation

More than two dozen light armored reconnaissance vehicles, equipment and personnel were transported by the 1st Light Armor Reconnaissance Battalion from Camp Pendleton, California, to launch a training operation at March Air Reserve Base, July 21. This exercise allowed the 1st LAR the ability to apply capabilities and core mission essential tasks learned at their...
 
 
Courtesy photo

HomeStrong USA gives opportunity for free home-ownership to local military veteran

Courtesy photo A volunteer, working with HomeStrong USA, makes repairs on the outside of a home that is being renovated for a deserving veteran. The non-profit organization donates renovated single-family homes to eligible vete...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2014

BONE MARROW DRIVE HERE SEPT 13 March Top 3 Association is hosting the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, Salute to Life Drive on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 in the grassy area outside the base Fitness Center, Bldg. 465 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. It’s quick and painless! Please join us in...
 




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