Yesterday, U.S. officials at the Pentagon announced that the military is likely to extend new benefits to same-sex partners of service members. Though Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has yet to announce which benefits might be included in the new plan, it’s expected that the military could allow same-sex partners access to on-base commissaries, as well as health and wellness programs.
“There are still many issues facing gay members of the armed services,” says Gregory T. Angelo, interim executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, “and we hope the military will ensure that same-sex partners of service members are eligible for military ID cards, equal housing and formal protection against harassment and discrimination.”
The new plan comes 16 months after the Pentagon repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And while the transition has been successful by most accounts, the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) could throw a proverbial wrench into these benefits. Because federal law forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, the guidelines for partners could become even more convoluted. And opponents could use DOMA to argue that same-sex couples (even though they may have been married legally in certain states) should not be entitled to the same benefits that heterosexual spouses of heterosexual service members have long enjoyed.
A decision could come in a matter of days, according to CBS. We’ll keep you posted.