The U.S. Department of Defense plans to give same-sex military couples the same benefits already offered to married heterosexual couples, including healthcare and housing privileges, according to a press release from the Pentagon released today.
Additionally, service members stationed in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriage is still illegal will be granted up to 10 days of leave specifically to obtain a marriage license from a state where it has been legalized.
“The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs,” the release stated.
When the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, giving federal marriage benefits to legally-married gay couples, it paved the way for this revision of a previously-announced plan that would have allowed same-sex military partners to sign a declaration form in order to receive limited benefits.
“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,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a draft memo to the Defense Department obtained by the Associate Press last week.
Same sex couples had been granted partial benefits before the Supreme Court ruling, which included survivor benefits and access to base grocery stores, but the latest announcement will grant equality to gay service members and their spouses including housing benefits and separation allowances.
All benefits will be retroactive to the Supreme Court ruling on June 26.
Jesse Farthing is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.