Beginning September 1, LGBT servicemember spouses will be eligible to receive identification cards allowing them to claim education, survivor, commissary, travel, counseling and transportation benefits. Although the Defense of Marriage Act currently restricts health care and housing to heterosexual couples, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the benefits will most likely be extended to same-sex couples at some point.
“These benefits shall be extended to the same-sex domestic partners and, where applicable, children of same-sex domestic partners, once the service member and their same-sex domestic partner have signed a declaration attesting to the existence of their committed relationship,” Panetta added.
Steven Peters, president of The American Military Partner Association recognizes the leap forward, but is ultimately saddened by the non-inclusive update. In a statement this morning, Peters said:
“While the benefits being extended to same-sex domestic partners are important and a step in the right direction, they are not inclusive of vitally needed benefits like health care, housing allowances, and command sponsorship for overseas duty stations. Some of the benefits not being extended are prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act. If the Supreme Court does not rule in favor of same-sex marriages this month, our gay and lesbian military families will continue to suffer and sacrifice more than should be asked of them.”
So, America. How much longer are we going to have to wait for full inclusion? This song and dance is getting old.