The Pentagon is currently reviewing a plan that would give same-sex spouses of military personnel full marriage benefits.
The Justice Department is reviewing the revisions, and if they are approved the changes could go into affect as soon as the end of this month. If the Defense Department gets the approval for the Justice Department, they will scrap a previous plan that would have given unmarried same-sex couples access to limited benefits if they were willing to sign a declaration form stating that they were in a committed relationship.
According to the Associated Press:
The Pentagon is poised to extend health care, housing and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of military members by the end of August, but may reverse earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married.
According to a draft Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, 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.
While no final decisions have been made, the memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders would reverse an earlier plan that would allow 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.
“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.
In the new draft memo, Hagel says the department intends to treat all married military personnel the same and “make 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.
A defense official told the AP:
Although we have bases and installations in all 50 states, not all state laws are equal when it comes to same sex marriage. That 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.”
When the Supreme Court ruled in June that DOMA was unconstitutional Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that “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.”
Photo: AP File/Jeff Sheng