Pentagon to offer benefits to same-sex soldier couples

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is to announce this week new guidelines on new benefits for spouses of gay personnel, according to unnamed officials.

The benefits are some of those currently enjoyed only by heterosexual couples in the military such as military identification cards, access to commissaries, family support programs and transportation privileges for couples stationed abroad. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) had requested the said benefits from Panetta in a letter signed by 25 colleagues in the House.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also asked Panetta in a Jan. 28 letter co-signed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to extend as many benefits as possible to gay spouses in the military before he leaves his post.

A military ID will allow a gay spouse to join an officers’ spouses organization and visit or pick up a spouse at a military hospital. Under current rules, spouses with no military ID are stopped at the hospital gate.

Other benefits reportedly being considered for gay spouses are access to psychological and legal counsel, access to spousal support, life insurance benefits, housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and joint duty assignments for uniformed couples.

The benefits are in line with President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda announced during his inaugural address. The administration had already repealed a ban on openly gay service members to promote equality and fairness in the service.

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