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The Department of Defense plans to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of service members and DoD civilian employees. In an Aug. 14 press release, the Defense Department announced spousal and family benefits will be available no later than Sept. 3 as long as service members provide valid marriage certificates.

Photo by Sgt. Terika King

DoD extends benefits to same-sex couples

23 Aug 2013 | Sgt. Terika King

The Department of Defense plans to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of service members and DoD civilian employees.

In an Aug. 14 press release, the Defense Department announced spousal and family benefits will be available no later than Sept.
3 as long as service members provide valid marriage certificates.

The decision comes amidst the Supreme Court’s ruling that Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Coupled with the Sept. 20, 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the changes put same-sex couples on equal footing with their traditional counterparts. 

TRICARE enrollment, basic allowance for housing and family separation allowance will be retroactive to June 26, 2013, the date of the Supreme Court’s ruling. For members married after June 26, entitlements begin the day of the marriage. 

Although benefits and entitlements are now equal to their male-female married counterparts, there still exists the unique situation that same-sex couples must first find a state that permits them to marry. To remedy that, the Defense Department plans to allow same-sex couples to take nonchargeable leave in order to travel to an area where they can get legally married.

Marines may be especially grateful for such a benefit since many East Coast Marine Corps bases are located in states that don’t currently allow same-sex couples to marry. West Coast Marines shouldn't need to travel much, as California is one of the 13 states that permit same-sex marriages. 

Civilians employed by the Department of Defense willfall under the federal government- wide guidance set up by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor.