Target: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Goal: Commend The U.S. Department of Defense for recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex married couples with spouses in the military
According to a recent article in the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a policy to give benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and other employees. The policy follows through on the Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman and even disallowed the Pentagon from allotting health care coverage and other benefits to same-sex partners of their federal employees.
In a memo released by the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserts, “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.” Following this new plan, couples able to provide a marriage certificate “valid in the place of celebration” should receive full “spousal and family benefits,” including health care coverage, housing allowances and survivor benefits.
Not without criticism from some Republican representatives, an added element of the policy actually removes a would-be barrier to committed same-sex partners accessing these benefits by granting leave to military personnel to marry their spouses in a state recognizing same-sex marriage as legal. The Department of Defense will grant a seven-day travel leave to military personnel stationed in the continental U.S. and a 10-day leave to those outside the U.S. At the start date of the policy, service members’ spouses as well as civilian Department of Defense employees will be able to claim benefits retroactively. As per officials’ estimate in February 2013, around 17,000 military personnel and veterans would apply for partial benefits for their partners with up to 5,600 of applicants in active-duty.
With this important step, the Department of Defense has actively committed to defending the rights of their married service members and Defense civilian employees regardless of sexual orientation. Commend this new policy that defends the rights of those who defend our nation by signing the petition below.
Dear Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,
I would like to thank you for your recent policy to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and civilian Department of Defense employees. Your actions both represent a major step in recognizing equal rights for married couples regardless of sexual orientation and follow through on the Supreme Court’s recent strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act. Even more commendable is your removal of a potential barrier to spouses’ access of these rights, allowing for a seven-day leave for military personnel stationed in the continental United States and a 10-day leave for those outside the U.S. in order to travel to a state recognizing same-sex marriage as legal.
Granting these couples full spousal and family benefits, including health care coverage, housing allowances, and survivor benefits, marks government leadership founded in tolerance and justice, and I thank you for taking this crucial step in defending the families of those who defend our own.
[Your Name Here]
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