American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Spouses of gay and lesbian servicemembers to receive equal benefits, Pentagon announces

The Pentagon announced that the spouses of gay and lesbian members of the military will be eligible for the same healthcare, housing and other benefits starting September 3.

In a memo to senior Pentagon officials, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said:

“It is now the department’s policy to treat all married military personnel equally.”

Additionally, military personnel who are stationed in a state without marriage equality will be allowed to take leave for travel to a jurisdiction where they can marry legally. The Associated Press reports that Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves and among military retirees. It’s unclear how many of those are married.

The policy change comes nearly two months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act which prevented the federal government from recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples and nearly two years after the ban was lifted that prevented gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly in the military.

Read the full memo >