DOD to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Following DOMA Ruling

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will “expeditiously” move forward in making benefits available to all military spouses—including same-sex couples—following the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the 1996 law, saying it’s unconstitutional to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples who are married in states where it’s legal. However, the ruling left in place any state laws banning same-sex marriage, reported the Washington Post. In a statement released following the ruling, Hagel said DOD “welcomed” the decision and “will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies.” During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Hagel said it’s not yet clear how much it will cost to implement. “We are now exploring all the pieces,” said Hagel. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said the ruling “means the Defense Department will extend all benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel that are currently extended to opposite-sex spouses, including medical, dental, interment at Arlington National Cemetery, and with-dependent Basic Allowance for Housing.” Christensen said he anticipates it will take six to 12 weeks to update the identification card issuance infrastructure and to update applicable ID card guidance. In addition, he said DOD is “carefully reviewing command sponsorship for overseas tours and all applicable status of forces agreements.” (AFPS release)