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The armed forces are getting ready to implement the benefits promised to same-sex partners of military members earlier this year.
The military will begin issuing ID cards to same-sex domestic partners September 1, entitling them to joint duty assignments with their partner, transportation benefits, access to counseling and recreational programs, and a variety of other privileges, as outlined by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in February,The Washington Timesreports. Also, various service branches are starting to train personnel in administration of the benefits.
When Panetta announced the benefits, he said they would be available sometime between August 31 and October 1; it now looks the date will be in the early end of that range.
Some benefits still won't be available to same-sex military couples unless the Defense of Marriage Act is struck down by the Supreme Court or repealed by Congress. These include such prime benefits as health care and housing allowances, which are governed by laws using the terms "spouse" and "marriage," and DOMA prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court recently heard a case challenging DOMA and is scheduled to issue its ruling this month.
"While the benefits being extended to same-sex domestic partners are important and a step in the right direction, they are not inclusive of vitally needed benefits like health care, housing allowances, and command sponsorship for overseas duty stations," said Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association, in a statement issued today. "Some of the benefits not being extended are prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act. If the Supreme Court does not rule in favor of same-sex marriages this month, our gay and lesbian military families will continue to suffer and sacrifice more than should be asked of them."