Target: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Goal: Make same-sex spouses of military members eligible for all benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples
Recently, the Pentagon announced that spouses in same-sex couples who are in the military will be able to enjoy the same housing, health care and other benefits as heterosexual spouses beginning September 3, 2013. After consulting with the Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon made it the department’s policy to treat all military couples equally. This decision serves as a huge step in the federal recognition of gay marriage and promotes gay rights at the federal level.
Defense officials approximate that there are 18,000 same-sex couples on active duty, including those in the National Guard and Reserves. The Defense of Marriage Act had blocked the federal government from recognizing gay marriage at the federal level, as it defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for same-sex couples that were legally married to be recognized under federal law. In light of this decision, Defense Secretary Hagel considered a proposal for benefits for legally married gay couples. Gay couples will be able to claim their benefits as long as the service member provides a valid marriage certificate.
Furthermore, military personnel in same-sex relationships who get stationed in a state that does not recognize gay marriage will be given paid leave to travel to a state or jurisdiction where they can get married legally. These steps taken by the Pentagon will not only provide same-sex couples greater access to all of the benefits offered to married military couples but also give equal opportunities to both heterosexual couples seeking to be married and same-sex couples who want to get married. These actions by the Pentagon follow in line with their decision in 2011 to drop the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Commend Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his decision to offer equal benefits to same-sex couples that heterosexual couples who serve in the military receive.
Dear Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,
We commend you for your decision to extend health, housing, and other benefits to spouses in same-sex couples in the military beginning September 3, 2013. There are approximately 18,000 same-sex couples on active duty today. This decision follows in line with the Pentagon’s decision in 2011 to drop the ban on gays serving openly in the military and represents yet another step towards equal rights for gay individuals in the U.S. military.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level by striking down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act prompted a discussion about new benefits plans for military couples. Your decision has leveled the playing level for same-sex and opposite sex couples in the military. We commend you for promoting gay rights and social equality in the military and throughout the United States.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alexa Shae via Flickr