A Year After Repeal Of DADT, Partners And Families Of LGBT Servicemembers Still Awaiting Benefits

It’s been a full year since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” yet the Pentagon, it seems, is dragging its boots when it comes to extending benefits to the same-sex partners and families of LGBT people serving in the military.

Speaking with Buzzfeed, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez claimed “laws and policies surrounding benefits are complex and interconnected, and it takes time to go through them, along with requirements that come with them.”

Neither Lainez nor Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson would or could give a deadline for the review, though Johnson — speaking at the Pentagon’s first Pride Month event in June — assured that “it’s coming along.”

It’s been coming along even before DADT’s repeal: A Pentagon working group generated a report to review its implications in November 2010, dedicating five pages to the issue of “benefits for same-sex partners and the families of gay and lesbian service members, in the event of repeal.”

So what’s so damn complex about giving benefits to service members’ families and same-sex partners? The same thing that’s so damn complex about giving benefits to any LGBT person’s families and same-sex partners on a federal level: the Defense of Marriage Act.

However, Buzzfeed points out:

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network provided the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on August 11, 2011, with a list of 11 areas of changes that it maintains could be made that would not violate DOMA or other federal laws defining marriage.

“It’s long past time for the Pentagon to expand all recognition, support, and benefits within its current authority to gay and lesbian service members and their families. We know what’s possible under current law,” said Zeke Stokes, the spokesman for SLDN, the legal group that played a major role in ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. “It’s time to act.”

The Pentagon working group review’s description of these benefits, which are the third category described by Lainez, was blunt: “For these, the Department of Defense and the Services have the regulatory flexibility to define the eligible beneficiaries in way that includes same-sex partners.” The benefits run from the obvious — like allowing same-sex spouses to obtain military I.D. cards so they are able to get on military bases to pick up their children without their servicemember spouse — to more military-specific benefits — like allowing joint duty assignments for same-sex couples where both partners are in the military.

Though the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has officially been a rip-roaring success, it’s a hollow victory if gay service members can be visible in the military, but their families and partners remain invisible.

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  • BJ McFrisky

    I can be pretty cynical about the gay community’s DADT hysteria, but this article seems to bring to light the underlying motivation behind this “movement”: Benefits. It wasn’t about rights or fairness, it was about getting free shit. Instead of proudly proclaiming their status as openly gay members of our military, instead they’re whining, “Where’s my free stuff? Why aren’t you giving me more?” Romney is right: Our entitlement mentality in this Obama-nation has truly become an abomination.

  • jwrappaport

    @BJ McFrisky: I can’t tell if you’re a troll or you genuinely believe in that nonsense. DADT repeal is precisely about rights and fairness – rights to the same benefits to which heterosexual servicemen/servicewomen are entitled, namely benefits conferred upon married couples. The entire gay rights movement is about substantive equality before the law – no more and no less than our straight counterparts have had since the Founding. Please explain how wanting the same benefits already provided by marriage recognition is akin to whining for free stuff. Again, we want nothing more or less than what is given to straight couples: if you want to move the baseline and deny everyone marriage benefits, fine, but you can’t equitably have it as a one-way street and discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

    That reminds me. Rosa Parks was also so whiney too – “Why can’t I just have the same treatment before the law that white people do?” And that Gandhi fellow – unbelievable that he felt “entitled” to self-government. The nerve of these people, thinking that they’re “entitled” to substantive equality before the law and basic freedoms every person should enjoy.

  • hyhybt

    Not a hollow victory. Just an incomplete one.

  • mlbumiller

    HM2(FMF)Ret….. I did my 20 years active duty Navy, and my partner spent 14 of them with me. Although he was not allow to go with me to Iceland for the 3yr stent there, He was denied updates to my deployment to Afghanistan. nor able to receive help from base when the bank that had my car loan refused to honor the power of attorny. Was no informed when and where we sould be arriving home. Upon my return form Afghan., he was denied access to the base, even though I had current base sticker on my vehicle, he was listed on title/registration and had a valid drivers lic. Fine if they do not was to give the finacial benefits because of DOMA, but we should be able to get all the others.

  • Michael Bedwell

    First, note again, that the “T” has no place in your title because transgender people, as you know, can’t serve openly period.BUT…BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO for being the first gay media site in two years to point out to its readers that all of these issues—and solutions—were identified nearly TWO YEARS AGO.

    Thus, both Eileen Lainez and Jeh Johnson are shameless, goddamn liars at the expense of OUR tax dollars.

    It’s been more than a year since SLDN told the SecDef what he surely already knew. Even if he didn’t, when is our most highly funded organization allegedly dedicated to advocating for LGB service member equality [and, now, ostensibly T, too] going to stop simply waving their pink hankies—”Yoo Hoo, Mr. Secretary!”—and marshall the community and our straight allies to DEMAND these easy changes? As MA Gov. Deval Patrick said about Democrats: “It’s time to grow a backbone!”

  • Freddie27

    Don’t feed the troll!

Comments are closed.