This past Monday the Pentagon decided to level the playing field for gay spouses serving in the military. Same-sex spouses will enjoy some of the same benefits as heterosexual military couples. The decision is a long time coming, the former DADT policy that prohibited openly gay service members from being in the military repealed in September 2011. The nation celebrated as gay soldier Randy Phillips came out to his father as soon as the DADT repeal was official, his YouTube video bring tears to people's eyes.
While the Pentagon will not able to grant all federal rights to LGBT spouses and families, the following benefits have been approved and granted to same-sex spouses in the armed forces.
- Joint duty assignments
- Access to family support initiatives
- ID cards for military base
- Legal assistance/ sexual assault counseling
- Option to take emergency leave for family emergencies
- Commissary privileges
Military leaders speak out
Gay rights activists and LGBT organizations feel that the time has come for gay families to be part of the in-crowd and have equal military rights.
Allyson Robinson, Outserve-SLDN’s Executive Director feels that the military “has established a two-tiered system regarding how they treat the haves and have-nots families,” as stated on http://articles.washingtonpost.com last week.
Outserve-SLDN is a non-profit organization that provides free legal counsel and assistance for current military members and veterans affected by the DADT repeal. With the official announcement of the Pentagon’s decision this past Monday, Robinson feels that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and President Obama have done the right thing.
“Secretary Panetta’s decision today answers the call President Obama issued in his inaugural address to complete our nation’s journey toward equality, acknowledging the equal service and equal sacrifice of our gay and lesbian service members and their families,” said Robinson, her statement posted on www.csmonitor.com.
Stephen L. Peters II, president of the American Military Partner Association, an organization that supports gay military spouses, feels that the Pentagon’s decision is long overdue.
“Considering DADT was repealed well over a year ago, our families have waited far too long for the DOD to extend benefits to same-sex spouses,” said Peters, according to http://dyn.politico.com.
Military Spouses Treatment Act
Unfortunately, gay military spouses are still excluded from some educational and medical benefits and a slew of other rights. Rep. Adam Smith, creator of the “Military Spouses Treatment Act,” that he introduced in June 2012 is trying to rectify this problem. The act, which Smith plans on reintroducing soon, would require the Defense and Veterans Affairs to recognize the legal marriages of LGBT military spouses. With the passage of this bill, the definition of “spouse” would also change, married gay military included in the definition.
Declaration of Domestic Partnership
The Pentagon is trying to make it fair for unmarried same-sex military spouses. These couples can reap the benefits of the Pentagon’s recent decision by signing the Declaration of Domestic Partnership (DODP) form. The Pentagon recognizes that most states do not have legalized gay marriage
The new benefits for same-sex military spouses and signers of the DODP form are slated to go into effect between Aug. 31 and Oct. 1 of this year.
What do you think about the Pentagon’s decision regarding gay military spouses? State your opinion with a comment below.