One Equal World

Recognized Military Benefits for Gay Spouses Is Another Huge victory for the LGBT Community

Posted on: October 8, 2013

Same-sex military couples can now receive the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

Same-sex military couples can now receive the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.
Image: Shutterstock

Moving forward in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act’s demise, the LGBT community and allies will be happy to see same-sex spouses receiving the same benefits as heterosexual couples. One recent development for same-sex couples is within the military, where all married couples, regardless of gender or orientation, are now qualified to receive benefits.

According to the New York Times, “The Defense Department announced Wednesday [August 14th] that it would begin offering benefits to the same-sex spouses of military personnel and other employees by early September.” These benefits have been achieved as a response to the Supreme Court decision to strike down DOMA, and are just some in what will hopefully become a long list of benefits that all couples qualify for. Under the Defense Department’s revised plan, health care coverage, housing allowances, and survivor benefits are just some of the spousal and family benefits that will soon be available to all legally married spouses.

In a memo released by the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote that “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,” a message of support to all Americans who serve in the military, regardless of their sexual orientation. In the post-DOMA world that we’re living in, it seems hard to believe that policies such as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” ever existed. DADT was a harsh, discriminatory policy that barred all openly gay Americans from serving in the military, something which only officially ended in 2011. It’s remarkable that now, only a few years later, same-sex couples are not only being recognized as a large part of our military force, but are also being advocated for and receiving equal benefits.

One dilemma within these positive new developments for LGBT military servicemen and women is that benefits are only allotted to legally married couples. Because not every state legally recognizes same-sex unions, there is still a long fight ahead for gay military personnel who cannot get married in their state, and thus cannot receive benefits for their family and partner. With every affirmative step forward, it is critical to remember that the LGBT community is counting on further social change to allow for complete equality.

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