Defense

August 9, 2013

Same-sex spouses may get military benefits

Same-sex spouses of military members could get health care, housing and other benefits by the end of August under a proposal being considered by the Pentagon. But earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married may be reversed.

A draft Defense Department memo obtained Aug. 7 by The Associated Press says the department instead may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can travel to states where they can marry legally.

The memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders, if implemented, would reverse an earlier plan that would have allowed the same-sex partners of military members to sign a declaration form in order to receive limited benefits, such as access to military stores and some health and welfare programs.

The recent Supreme Court decision extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples eliminates the need for such a plan, Hagel said in the draft.

As the Supreme Court’s ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system, Hagel wrote.

According to a U.S. official, the memo is under legal review by the Justice Department, and the Pentagon will not be able to take any action until that review is finished.

Although we have bases and installations in all 50 states, not all state laws are equal when it comes to same-sex marriage,î a defense official said. ìThat is why we are looking at providing extra leave for same-sex couples who want to get married to travel to a state where same-sex marriages are legal. The officials were not authorized to discuss the memo publicly, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pentagon officials would not comment on the specifics of the memo. A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said only that the Pentagon is working alongside the Department of Justice to implement the court’s decision as quickly as possible.

In February, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that by no later than Oct. 1 the Pentagon would extend some limited benefits to same-sex partners of service members. Housing benefits were not included, but the plans called for same-sex partners to get special identification cards granting them access to commissaries and other services.

The benefits would be contingent on the service member and his or her same-sex partner signing a declaration that they were in a committed relationship.

At the time, officials said that if the Supreme Court ruled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the issue would be revisited. The act prohibited the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.

In late June, the court cleared the way for legally married gay couples to be recognized under federal law and also allowed same-sex marriages in California to resume. It did not issue any sweeping declarations that would allow same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the country.

When the ruling was announced, Hagel said the Pentagon would reassess the department’s decisions on benefits for same-sex couples and also begin the process of extending benefits to same-sex spouses of military members.

In the new draft memo, Hagel says the department intends to treat all married military personnel the same and ìmake the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation.
But, recognizing that same-sex couples are only allowed to marry in a limited number of states, Hagel said the provision allowing service members to travel to states where the unions are legal is a way to help overcome those challenges.

Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It’s unclear how many of those are married.

The repeal of the ban on openly gay military service took effect in September 2011.




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


 
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Smart-mortar will help Soldiers more effectively hit targets

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez Nick Baldwin and Evan Young, researchers with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Pennsylvania, discuss the 120mm Guided Enhanced Fragmentation Mortar ...
 
 

Air Force assigns new chief scientist

The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology adviser to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21. Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role. “I...
 
 

TSgt promotion release delayed to allow system validation

Technical sergeant promotion selection results, originally scheduled for release May 28, will be delayed to enable the Air Force to continue to validate extensive system changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System, officials announced. The 15E6 technical sergeant promotion cycle is the first to incorporate recent changes in the enlisted evaluation and promotion system. Recent...
 

 

Freedom completes rough water trials

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom completed Seakeeping and Structural Loads Trials, commonly referred to as Rough Water Trials in late March the Navy reported May 21. The U.S. Navy must demonstrate the seaworthiness and structural integrity of each new ship class. One of the primary ways the Navy verifies these qualities is through a...
 
 

Air Force releases Strategic Master Plan

The Air Force officially released the Strategic Master Plan May 21, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training and equipping of the force over the coming decades. The SMP builds on the strategic imperatives and vectors described in the capstone document, America’s Air Force: A Call...
 
 

HYT extension possible for SrA-MSgt in 35 career fields

Eligible senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in 35 Air Force specialties will be able to apply for a high year of tenure extension and, if approved, will be able to extend between 12 and 24 months past their current HYT. The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to...
 




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>