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Pentagon announces spousal benefits for gay US service members

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: 'It is now the department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally'

Pentagon announces spousal benefits for gay US service members

The spouses of gay military personnel will now get the same benefits as those of heterosexual personnal, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today.

The US Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act cleared the way for the Pentagon to offer the benefits to same-sex partners as of 3 September.

‘It is now the department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally,’ Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a written statement.

‘The department will construe the words "spouse" and "marriage" to include same-sex spouses and marriages, and the Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they’re in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage.’

The benefits include health and pension previously unavailable under DOMA as well as housing benefits.

At this time, 13 US states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. The Pentagon will offer gay military personnel stationed in places without marriage equality leave in order to travel to another state to get married.

The Pentagon will also recognize same-sex marriages of service members even in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage.

Writes Hagel: ‘This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the Department and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.’

It was just two years ago that gay and lesbian military personnel in the US could begin serving openly with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.


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