By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2014 2:53 PM ET
Same-sex domestic partners and civil union partners of military personnel will be granted the same burial benefits that married spouses of service members receive, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday.
"This may be the first time a federal agency has expanded so-called 'spousal' benefits to include domestic partners and those in civil unions," notes a press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,
While calling on Congress to continue expanding the rights of LGBT servicemembers and their families to veterans' benefits, the Task Force praised the new policy, which it recommended to the VA in January.
“This is an important victory for LGBTQ veterans and their families who are in civil unions and domestic partnerships. Now many more LGBTQ military families will be able to grieve the loss of loved ones who have served, without having the additional stress of worrying about funeral expenses,” said a statement issued by the organization Friday.
Earlier this week, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work declared that the department would recognize the work of LGBT personnel for Pride Month.
"They were forced by law to compromise their values. To choose between serving the country they love and ... being true to themselves," he said Thursday. "Today we celebrate that that chapter in our history is now over and increasingly forgotten.”
Work said he also believed the military was stronger because of "the diversity and culture of inclusion we celebrate this very day and this entire month."