WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense on Aug. 14 announced its plan to extend ben- efits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and DOD Civilian Employees.
After a review of the department’s benefit policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies, the Defense Department will make spousal and family benefits available no later than Sept. 3, regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate.
The DOD remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their Families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs.
Entitlements such as TRICARE enrollment, basic allowance for housing and family separation allowance are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision. Any claims to entitlements before that date will not be granted. For those members married after June 26, entitlements begin at the date of marriage.
The DOD recognizes that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such relationships nonchargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur. This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department and help level the play- ing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.
For civilian benefits administered governmentwide to federal employees, the DOD will follow the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of La-bor’s guidance to ensure that the same benefits currently available to heterosexual spouses are also available to legally married same-sex spouses.
American Forces Press Service