Equal benefits for all

Same-sex spouses may get military perks
Associated Press
Aug 9, 2013

Same-sex spouses of military members could get health care, housing and other benefits by the end of August under a proposal being considered by the Pentagon. But earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married may be reversed.

A draft Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press says the department instead may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can travel to states where they can marry legally.

The memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders, if implemented, would reverse an earlier plan that would have allowed the same-sex partners of military members to sign a declaration form in order to receive limited benefits, such as access to military stores and some health and welfare programs.

The recent Supreme Court decision extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples eliminates the need for such a plan, Hagel said in the draft.

"As the Supreme Court's ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded all benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the spousal and family benefits far outweigh the benefits that could be extended under a declaration system," Hagel wrote.

According to a U.S. official, the memo is under legal review by the Justice Department, and the Pentagon will not be able to take any action until that review is finished.

"Although we have bases and installations in all 50 states, not all state laws are equal when it comes to same-sex marriage," a defense official said. "That is why we are looking at providing extra leave for same-sex couples who want to get married to travel to a state where same-sex marriages are legal." The officials were not authorized to discuss the memo publicly, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pentagon officials would not comment on the specifics of the memo. A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said only that the Pentagon "is working alongside the Department of Justice to implement the court's decision as quickly as possible."

In February, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that by no later than Oct. 1 the Pentagon would extend some limited benefits to same-sex partners of service members. Housing benefits were not included, but the plans called for same-sex partners to get special identification cards granting them access to commissaries and other services.

The benefits would be contingent on the service member and his or her same-sex partner signing a declaration that they were in a committed relationship.

At the time, officials said that if the Supreme Court ruled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the issue would be revisited. The act prohibited the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.

In late June, the court cleared the way for legally married gay couples to be recognized under federal law and also allowed same-sex marriages in California to resume. It did not issue any sweeping declarations that would allow same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the country.

When the ruling was announced, Hagel said the Pentagon would reassess the department's decisions on benefits for same-sex couples and also begin the process of extending benefits to same-sex spouses of military members.

In the new draft memo, Hagel says the department intends to treat all married military personnel the same and "make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation."

But, recognizing that same-sex couples are only allowed to marry in a limited number of states, Hagel said the provision allowing service members to travel to states where the unions are legal is a way to help overcome those challenges.

Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It's unclear how many of those are married.

The repeal of the ban on openly gay military service took effect in September 2011.

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Comments

Nemesis

No, because they are assertions of MORALITY. In this country, assertions of morality all carry equal weight regarding matters of government, because zero always equals zero. As for those facts, they are irrelevant to the issue in question because there is no evidence that they apply to the new type of civil marriage being contemplated. There are plenty of moral assertions to which I am sure you object for which numerous supporting facts can be cited - that doesn't change the fact that this is a free country where no one is subject to anyone else's moral assertions.

coasterfan

Points well taken, Polish Bear. A live theatre production of "8", which uses actual court testimony from the trial, was given on Broadway by a number of well known Hollywood actors. When you hear what actually was said by both sides of the issue in court, you get a true sense that those who oppose gay marriage have no leg to stand on, both legally and morally. When discrimination hides behind religion, it's not a pretty thing.

OSUBuckeye59

"When discrimination hides behind religion, it's not a pretty thing." VERY well said, coasterfan. And besides being "not a pretty thing", it also violates the separation of church and state.

I would still offer the solution of having our state and federal governments strike the word "marriage", and instead have laws use language that legalize the union of two humans. Let religious groups define what each denomination considers to be a marriage and let the government designate what they consider a legal union of humans. I realize there will be some small percentage of people irritated they can't be legally recognized for their dog or cat or iguana as a spousal partner. Still, we need to get our governments out of the marriage definition business.

Nemesis

Exactly, Buckeye. Why shouldn't two siblings, or two platonic friends, be able to live together and have a survivorship deed to their home?

thinkagain

The deviant sexual proclivity lobby epitomizes the intolerant attitude of the left wing, foaming at the mouth, propagandistic “progressive”.

Their never-ending pressuring of society to give up religious faith, merely exposes them as preachy, intolerant and hypocritical extremists.

Atheism contains nothing within itself that could reasonably generate any sort of moral standard.

What is “progressive” about two or more men regressing to an animal state and having sex with each other?

OSUBuckeye59

@thinkagain,

With all due respect, you're missing the point. The goal is not for the government to define what is and is not marriage. The goal is for government to define what is a legal union of two humans, and let religions define what constitutes a marriage. Atheism has no bearing or relevance. This is about the separation of church and state, where principally for matters of finance (i.e. insurance, estates) our government needs to clearly define what is and is not the legal definition for a union between two persons.

Speaking of being "progressive", what is "progressive" about a husband who believes he's devout yet sodomizes his wife? Or a "devout" husband forcing his wife to perform oral sex acts on him? Or a "devout" husband forcing his wife to have intercourse with him during her menstrual cycle? All of these acts are expressly forbidden in the Bible. How are these forced actions by the "devout" husband NOT a regression to an animal state on his part?

And what do sexual relations between a man and another man, a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman have anything to do with whether or not a same-gender partner should be recognized as a legal partner to receive insurance benefits?

thinkagain

I keep hearing the atheistic Left cry, “separation of church and state”. Sorry, I can’t seem to find that anywhere in the Constitution. The people did not want freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion.

Many of our laws are based on standards of morality found in the Bible. Should we remove them from law because the church should be separated from the state?

This country was established upon the assumption that religion was essential to good government.

To say Biblical principles should not be allowed in government is to either be ignorant of the historic intent of the founding fathers, or blatantly bigoted against Christianity.

There are many who live by the Word of God and live a moral and joyful life. What about their rights?

As parents, they wish to morally educate their children in accordance with the mandates of their own conscience and/or religious predisposition. Aren’t the liberals always complaining that religious morality should be barred from the public school agenda? Yet this particular “moral” view, that homosexuality should be accepted as normative by all, which is repugnant to the majority of Christians and people of sound mind, is taught to children who have no business being educated about ANY brand of sexual preference.

Jesus Christ: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.” (Mark 10:6-7).

OSUBuckeye59

@thinkagain,

There is no language in the Constitution explicitly calling for separation of church and state, just as there is no language in the Constitution establishing a federally-sanctioned church since our Founding Fathers definitely did not want to sanction any one religion as was the case in England. Most of our founding fathers were religious men, but most were also staunch federalists, meaning they thought the power to legislate on religion, if it existed at all, lay within the domain of the state, not the national, governments. Additionally, the Constitutional delegates believed that it would be a tactical mistake to introduce such a politically controversial issue as religion into the Constitution. The only "religious clause" in the document--the proscription of religious tests as qualifications for federal office in Article Six--was intended to defuse controversy by disarming potential critics who might claim religious discrimination in eligibility for public office.

Religious principles can provide guidance in governing, but religion should not be used to dictate how we govern.

Many people do indeed find joy and solace in living by the word of God, just as I'm guessing (raised Catholic so I'm guessing) Atheists find joy and solace in their own way even though they don't believe in the existence of any God. And that's exactly as our Founding Fathers intended it: that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, & name-any-other-religious-sect-peoples could all peacefully live in the United States because the government explicitly did not sanction any one church...that they and their children and their children's children and so forth could live their lives without having any one religion being lorded over another. And this is exactly why when a public school has a picture of Jesus Christ hanging in the halls, if a student who is a follower of Islam requests to hang a picture of Mohammed, that student should be allowed to do so, just as Buhddist's hanging a picture of Buddha, and so forth. This doesn't mean I support requiring the public school to remove a picture of Jesus Christ, only that if a figure of one religion is placed in a prominent public location, then anyone wanting to also place a picture of their religious figure be given the opportunity to do so as well. And if a school chooses to teach children about Christianity, they must then allow for followers of other religions to also teach students about those other religions *IF* the other religious leaders make the request. And let's flip the argument: What if you had school-aged children and moved to a city where the majority of the population was of the Muslim faith, and your children came home after the first day of school telling you their teachers stopped classes at certain times of the school day in order to complete their daily prayer sessions, and that your children were all given prayer rugs and highly encouraged to participate?

But back to the original discussion of "Equal benefits for all", the point of all this is about legal recognition of the civil union of two persons for legal rights and status almost exclusively to deal with matters of finance. How does the recent Supreme Court decision, with one of the outcomes being a gay couple now being able to file a joint Federal Tax Return, violate your living a moral and joyful life? If someone named Bobbie wants to file a joint Federal Tax Return with someone by the name of Pat who they've been living with for the past 10 years, equally paying a house mortgage payment, equally paying for utility services, and equally paying homeowner insurance, what does it matter in the context of filing a joint Fed Tax Return if Bobbie and Pat are both males, or one is male the other female, or both are female?

BTW, you still haven't answered my questions about "Progressiveness".

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