Target: United States Department of Defense
Goal: Thank the Pentagon for extending benefits to same-sex couples in the armed forces
Gay rights groups celebrated a victory after an important announcement from the Pentagon recently made headlines. The military is poised to extend certain benefits to the same-sex partners of service members and their families, about 16 months after the Pentagon repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). The benefits include commissary privileges, access to family support initiatives and joint duty assignments.
This comes as one of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s last policy moves as a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, and it will likely be one of his most lasting legacies. Pannetta said of the decision, “It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country.”
The new benefits do not include certain items that could have been granted, such as burial rights at national cemeteries, on-base housing and certain travel expenses for spouses. OutServe-SLDN, which pushed for the repeal of DADT, nevertheless called the Pentagon’s announcement “substantive.”
Increased pressure on the Pentagon to extend benefits to same-sex partners, comes with the risk of violation of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Hoping to implement a measure that could help lawmakers supersede DOMA, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced legislation last year known as the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act, that would provide equal benefits to same-sex military families by redefining “spouse.” The Supreme Court is expected to rule very soon on the constitutionality of DOMA.
Thank the Department of Defense for this important decision, and encourage them to continue to strive for equal rights for LGBT armed service members.
Dear Department of Defense,
I am greatly encouraged to hear about the announcement regarding the extension of benefits to same-sex couples in the U.S. military. Although there is still work to be done to achieve full equality, this is an important step and reflects a growing sentiment among Americans supporting LGBT rights. Thank you for sending this important message to your LGBT service members; that their rights are just as important as those of their heterosexual peers.
I hope you continue to set an example and strive to honor the American commitment to equality and acceptance. The brave men and women who serve the U.S. deserve to feel safe, respected, and valued, and I appreciate this important measure in the fight for universal rights for all.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Seanmd80 at en.wikipedia