As the full repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule approaches, details are emerging on the question of just what benefits gay spouses of military members can receive. And the answer is “not many.”
According to a story today at Military.com, gay spouses can expect to receive almost no benefits afforded other military spouses. The only exception seems to be surrounding some death benefits. Gay partners are permitted to be notified if a servicemember dies and named as beneficiary to death payouts. But all other military death benefits, such as base privileges, memorial help and even details of the death are denied, the story says.
The denials are based on a federal marriage act under which the Defense Department operates. That rule only recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman. Because of it spouse benefits are reserved for only those married to a person of the opposite sex – even if the marriage is recognized as legal in certain states.
For gay spouses this means no government ID cards, no help with military moves, no commissary, exchange or base recreation privileges, no Tricare, no BAH for lower married gay servicemembers, no sanctioned on-base housing, no dependent payouts, and no special joint duty assignments for those who are also in the service.
According to the story, DoD said these rules may be bent in some “hardship” circumstances. But critics say having rules that are only enforced for some is a recipe for disaster.
Without getting into a political discussion, tell us what you think. Gay spouses, just like girlfriends, boyfriends, fiancés, parents and other spouses, all experience the hardship of deployment and separation. Do you think these benefits rules are fair and, if not, what should change?