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DoD: Gay Spouses to Get Some Military Benefits

The Pentagon will this week announce a plan to give some benefits to gay military spouses, according to this story in the Washington Post.

While there are no details on just what benefits will be included in the roll-out, it is pretty easy to guess which ones will not be: anything requiring registration as legally a married spouse in DEERS.

That’s because the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Until that law has been repealed or altered, gay spouses will not be viewed as legal married by the federal government, of which the Defense Department is an extension.

Cmdr. Leslie Helryde, a DoD spokeswoman, told us she has no details on exactly what benefits gay spouses can expect. Most of the benefits available under current policy are available only after a servicemember has been seriously injured or killed. (Go here to see what those are). And the Post story says that lawyers have identified at least 100 benefits that spouses will not be able to receive because of DOMA.

So what can gay spouses likely expect? Without official input from DoD, this is our best guess in a variety of categories:

Base access: Yes. Because holding an ID card does not require marriage (example: designated care givers have IDs), we guess that this will be allowed.

Commissary/PX use: Yes. In the past any ID card holder, including designated care givers, could use the commissary. The newly extended benefits will likely include this.

MWR: Yes. Same as the commissary/PX.

Housing allotments or access to base housing: No. Because housing allowances/access to base housing is linked to being married (with an exception for single servicemembers who have children), this is unlikely to be extended.

TRICARE or any health benefits: No. Same reason as base housing.

Gay military support organizations such as Out Serve-SLDN have said that anything less than a full extension of benefits is a breach of civil rights. But we see this as a step in the right direction. What do you think?

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.