The Defense Department on Wednesday announced plans to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service personnel and DOD civilian employees. These spousal and family benefits will become available no later than Sept. 3, “as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate,” states the Pentagon’s Aug. 14 release. This action follows the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional. Benefits such as Tricare enrollment, basic housing allowance, and family separation allowance are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision, states the release. For members married after the decision, benefits begin at the date of marriage. DOD “remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve our country and their families are treated fairly and equally,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in his memo to the service Secretaries on this change. “Expeditious implementation” of this, he said, “will help the department remain true to that commitment.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.