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Pentagon Extends Spousal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons)

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it will begin extending benefits to same-sex spouses of military service members starting early next month.

NBC News reports the Department of Defense will provide legally-married same-sex couples with the same benefits afforded to other married couples beginning September 3. These include: health care, housing, family separation allowances and compensation paid to servicemen and women whose dependents are unable to live with them at their permanent duty stations.

“The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the US military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs,” the Pentagon said in its Wednesday announcement.

The news comes one day after a senior Pentagon official told NBC News that service members stationed in any of the 37 states where same-sex couples cannot legally marry will be given as long as 10 days’ leave so they can travel to a state where such unions are legal to obtain marriage licenses.

“We recognize 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,” the Pentagon said. “That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of traveling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur.”

It has been a remarkable period for LGBT service members. Less than two years after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, the military’s long-standing ban on gays and lesbians serving openly among the ranks, the official Pentagon stance on LGBT troops has become one of acceptance and facilitation. Last August, the Army welcomed Tammy Smith as its first openly gay general. And starting in 2012, the Pentagon allowed LGBT troops to march in Gay Pride parades in uniform.

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